– from Aaron Q. in Brookfield, WI

Question Details:

I am paying maintenance to my ex-wife based on my income. I have transferred my interest in several properties to my children, therefore reducing my income. I want to motion the court for a maintenance modification. Does my transference of rental property constitute a  significant enough change in financial circumstances?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This would honestly depend on several key factors. If the children you transferred your interest to still entitles you to an income stream, then no. If the children still live at home, it may also be construed as an attempt to create a financial change on paper in order to avoid maintenance payments. In this case, a finding would have to be made.

In the case of Poindexter v. Poindexter 142 Wis. 2d 517, 419 N.W.2d 223 (1988), a situation occurred where the husband had transferred his interest in several rental properties to his wife. The court found there was a change in circumstances and ordered he pay 30% of his gross income to his ex for maintenance. He appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. Upon petitioning the supreme court, the amount was affirmed, but how much income he had was reversed based on the fact that no finding was made that he transferred property to avoid payments to his ex-wife.

I would advise that you speak to an attorney right away before proceeding in order to discuss the circumstances of your case in detail.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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