The Possible Pitfalls of Entering into a Modifiable Maintenance agreement

A case that was recently decided in Cook County, Illinois, denied the modification of a long term maintenance agreement. A Judgment of Dissolution was entered in March of 2000, and at that time the wife was already diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  The parties agreement made arrangements for the wife to be able to stay in the marital residence throughout her life or until her doctors made the determination that it was best for her to reside in a long-term care facility or nursing home.  Under the terms of the agreement, if the ex-wife was placed in a nursing home or long term care facility, the husband’s maintenance obligation would be reduced from $1,500.00 to $500.00, and his other obligations of $1500.00 for monthly maintenance of the residence and (up to) $4,000.00 monthly for her home health care and his obligation to pay real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance on the marital  residence would be eliminated. So essentially his obligation would go from $7,000.00 to $500.00.


The Judgment was clear that the decision to place the wife into a nursing home or long-term facility would rest on the shoulders of her medical doctor who was treating her.  The Husband petitioned the Court to have his wife placed in a facility in order to avoid and evade the consequences of his agreement to pay the thousands of dollars while she continued to reside in the residence.


The doctors who testified did not support the husband in that the wife needed to be admitted into a long term care facility and the court decided that absent any testimony that it was medically necessary for her to reside in a nursing home, the Court would not impose the husband’s desire upon the wife because it was financially taxing and stressful on him.


Although I do not know what the husband was thinking, or how he was advised when he entered into the original agreement, I don’t think he anticipated paying this amount for over sixteen (16) years.  And I am sure the push to have the amount modified because of the drastic amounts between the wife residing at home and in a long term care facility was drastic, and he was aging himself, he had an even bigger incentive to try and have her placed in a home.


It is always important when entering into a modifiable maintenance agreement, to think about the consequences if it is never modified, because sometimes that is what the situation will be.

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