Does My Spousal Support Duty End When I Retire?

Along with the freedom of retirement comes a number of financial questions: What is my new monthly budget? How much will I receive in Social Security? Should I make changes to my lifestyle? You may also wonder if you are still required to pay maintenance to your ex-spouse. The usual answer is yes. While alimony can end for a number of reasons, your retirement does not automatically terminate your duty to pay spousal support. However, if your retirement dramatically changes your financial circumstances, you can ask the court to stop or reduce your maintenance payments based on a substantial change in circumstances.


Asking for a Modification of Your Maintenance Duty


Like many others, you may find yourself living on a much smaller income after you retire. Instead of bringing in your previous annual salary, you now have Social Security and payments from your retirement account or pension. If there is a dramatic reduction in your income, this may be enough to prove a substantial change in circumstances, which justifies ending or lowering your spousal support payments to your ex. You can return to court and ask for a modification. The judge will look at a number of factors to decide whether stopping or reducing your maintenance is appropriate, including:


  • A change in your or your ex’s employment status, such as retirement, and whether the change was made in good faith,
  • Any increase or decrease in your income or your ex’s income since the current order was entered,
  • Your ex’s efforts to become self-supporting and whether those efforts were reasonable and appropriate,
  • Any impairment in your or your ex’s present and future earning capacity,
  • The property, including retirement benefits, you and your ex were awarded during the divorce,
  • The property currently owned or acquired by each of you since the divorce,
  • The tax consequences of the maintenance payments for both you and your ex,
  • The duration of maintenance already paid and remaining to be paid under the current order relative to the length of the marriage, and
  • Any other factors the court believes to be just and equitable.


Was Your Retirement in Good Faith?


The judge may inquire as to whether your retirement was in good faith, particularly if you chose to retire early. Retiring early can include leaving work or receiving your Social Security benefits before you are 65-67 years old.  Before a judge orders reduced maintenance or terminates your duty, he or she will want to be sure that you did not purposefully retire sooner than necessary to influence your financial situation and force an end to your ex’s support.


Your Ex’s Financial Situation Matters


The judge will not simply focus on the facts that you appropriately retired and now have a lower income. He or she will also look at your ex’s current income and expenses, which may also be affected by retirement. Unless your ex-spouse is financially very well off and able to fully support him- or herself, you are unlikely to win a full termination.


Contact Me Today


Retirement leads to a number of changes in your life including a reduced income, which may support a lower alimony payment. Call my office today at (312) 621-5234 or contact me online to schedule a consultation and learn how we can ask the court for a maintenance modification.