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Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell - Providing Over 20 Years of Industry Leading Experience in Family Law, Business Law and Criminal Law
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Spousal Support and Retirement

While retirement does not guarantee an automatic reduction in alimony, it is a good time to reevaluate your spousal support order.

Spousal Support and RetirementIf a spousal support order was included in your divorce decree, you are no doubt familiar with the various considerations that the court may use to calculate the amount of support that must be paid. These considerations include the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the high-earning spouse’s income, and the supported spouse’s ability to become self-sufficient. Considering that a high-earning spouse’s income typically takes a big hit at retirement, it might seem reasonable to assume that alimony should be automatically reduced or even ended at retirement. In reality, the question of spousal support after retirement is much more complex.

Whether you or your ex is the one paying alimony, it would be wise to reevaluate your alimony agreement now so that the process of requesting any necessary modifications may begin as promptly as possible after retirement.

Is the Supported Spouse Still Single?

In some cases, the question of alimony after retirement can be avoided completely due to the supported spouse entering a new relationship. If your ex gets remarried the alimony should be terminated, and if your ex can be proven to be cohabiting with a long-term partner and enjoying reduced living expenses as a result, the alimony should be reduced. Or course you don’t have to wait for retirement to approach to consider chancing alimony based on these factors, but you should not fail to consider them at retirement.

Recalculate Both Spouses’ Income

In the years following divorce, ideally the supported spouse will have moved towards greater self-sufficiency and be earning more income. This may reduce their need for alimony. As the spouse paying alimony enters retirement, typically their income will decrease, and the court must acknowledge this reduced ability to pay. It is important to remember that the ability to pay support is based on income, not assets. So while the income from retirement investments may be considered, the principals of those investments may not.

Check Social Security Benefits

The ability of the supported spouse to collect Social Security should also be considered, as getting Social Security benefits can help the supported spouse continue to make ends meet while helping to lift the burden of alimony from the paying spouse. Spouses can collect benefits from their ex’s work history, provided that the couple was married for at least 10 consecutive years, the working spouse paid Social Security tax for at least 10 years, and the low-earning spouse is not married. Any alimony being paid will be deducted from the supported spouse’s benefit.


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My ex-wife hired an attorney which prompted me to do so for our divorce. Torrence Howell was highly recommended from a friend of mine who used Torrence’s services for a divorce just like mine. The results came out much better than he ever thought it would. With all things being equal I felt Torrence would

-Anonymous May 23, 2018

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