Modifying Karon Waivers

Minnesota has recently amended Minnesota Statute 518.552 which governs spousal maintenance or alimony.  As provided under the statute, parties to a marital dissolution proceeding may agree to take away a district court’s jurisdiction to modify the spousal maintenance award which is also known as a “Karon waiver”.  See Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501 (Minn.1989).  Before the statute was amended, once the parties had agreed to a Karon waiver, the district court could not modify the spousal maintenance award even if the parties subsequently agreed to a modification at a later date.  See Gossman v. Gossman, 847 N.W.2d 718, 721 (Minn. App. 2014).

With the enactment of the amended statute and pursuant to an agreement between the parties, the parties may now reconfer jurisdiction back to the district court over a spousal maintenance award.  What does this mean?  Even if there is a Karon waiver in place, the parties are now able to modify a spousal maintenance award by a stipulation.

The amended statute also provides that Karon waivers may now be implemented pursuant to a post-decree stipulation.  Before the statute was amended, Karon waivers could, under the plain language of the statute, only be implemented in the Judgment and Decree.

The amendments to the statute ultimately provide parties to a divorce proceeding with more flexibility regarding spousal maintenance awards and give due regard to the continually changing circumstances of the parties.