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How does retirement impact alimony?

When a person is ordered or agrees to pay alimony (spousal support) as part of a divorce, the amount and time frame are designated. Of course, changes to the financial situation of one or both of the former spouses may be grounds for modification of the original spousal support agreement. One of these is often retirement, either by the person paying the alimony or the person receiving it.

If the payer retires, he or she can seek a reduction in alimony. However, whether that is granted depends on a number of factors. Key considerations are why the person retired and whether the retirement came at a reasonable point in his or her life. If a perfectly healthy person decides to retire at 55, for example, that person likely has the financial means, such as a generous pension, that will allow that person to do so. Therefore, he or she may have a difficult time convincing a judge to reduce his or her alimony payments.

If a person retires at 70 and his or her primary source of income is now Social Security, that will likely warrant an adjustment in required payments. The judge will look at the payer's new income level as well as the recipient's income, which may include Social Security spousal benefits.

If the alimony recipient seeks an increase in support because he or she has retired, a judge will also consider whether that retirement was reasonable. The judge will consider all of that person's sources of post-retirement income, including Social Security.

It doesn't matter if you are retiring by choice or because your health requires it, it's important to talk with not just your financial advisor, but also a Rhode Island family law attorney. Your attorney can advise you on your chances of successfully seeking an alimony modification and work to help you get that modification.

Source: FindLaw, "Ending or Changing Alimony Payments After Retirement," George Khoury, Esq., accessed April 12, 2018

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