Facing Divorce? See what steps you can take to protect what's yours.
Divorce Home » Divorce News » Articles » Legislation

Missouri Supreme Court Rules That Fixed Divorce Agreements Can't Be Changed


March 23, 2007 — A Missouri man who claimed that his ex-wife tried to hire a hit man to kill him and argued that his fixed divorce agreement should thus be changed has been unanimously shot down by the state's Supreme Court.

Joseph Richardson and his St. Louis attorney Chet Pleban alleged that there was enough evidence indicating that his ex-wife Ida had tried to have him killed. Others severely questioned such "evidence" and accusations, and pointed out that Ida Richardson has never even been charged with trying to have her ex-husband killed.

Regardless of this fact, Richardson felt that he should no longer have to abide to his current Missouri divorce agreement. Specifically, Richardson had agreed to pay Ida $2,425 a month in alimony until she remarried or either one of them died.

Richardson and Pleban argued before the state Supreme Court in December that there are exceptions which allow a fixed agreement to be changed, and that it is wrong to not allow judges to reconsider fixed divorce agreements when warranted by outstanding circumstances. They added that an exception like murder should be added to discourage bad acts which allow the other party to profit, a claim which made no sense to the Missouri Supreme Court under the couple's divorce agreement.

The Missouri Supreme Court specifically said that even if Ida Richardson had Joseph killed, her monthly payments would stop according to their agreement. This clearly showed the court that such alleged actions were not motivated by money. The court also said this case was separate from any claims related to insurance policies or funds payable upon death, and further added that criminal laws already discourage murder and that this exception does not have to be added.

The Missouri Supreme Court also clarified a Missouri divorce law stating that a court may order changes to a divorce agreement upon "unconscionable" findings. Pleban had argued that an "unconscionable" finding like attempted murder should be enough to change the agreement. However, the Court said that this MO divorce law is only applicable before the divorce agreement is finalized.

Supreme Court Dismissal of Joseph Richardson's Claims Reinforced A Lower Court's Decision!

The Missouri Supreme Court had wondered whether allowing changes to fixed divorce agreements would create a flood of lawsuits in which people made claims in order to get out of paying support to their ex-spouses.

Ida Richardson's attorney indicated in the story that Joseph Richardson had tried to wiggle his way out of the divorce agreement several times before this latest futile attempt.

» Back to Divorce Articles