The firm is often called on at times to advise clients on the effect of retirement on a payor’s obligation to pay alimony to a former spouse. Retirement can be viewed as “normal” retirement at the age of 66 to 67 when Social Security Retirement age kicks in or prior which is called “early retirement.” Despite some individual’s belief, retirement does not give rise to an automatic cessation of alimony.

As a general rule, the provisions addressing alimony in a marital settlement agreement may be modified upon a showing of “changed circumstances” unless there is a non-modification provision.

Retirement is a changed circumstances which may or may not be deserving of a modification or termination of alimony. However, many include provisions as it relates to retirement in Martial Settlement Agreements that plan for this future occurrence. For example, some clients insert language that it is expected that the payor will retire at the age of 66 and that alimony will be terminated at that time. Other provisions might not be so cut and dry and state that “at the normal retirement age, payor may seek to modify and/or terminate alimony.”

Alimony is to maintain the dependent spouse at the standard of living he/she had become accustomed to during the marriage. By law, alimony automatically terminates at the death of the payor, the death of the payee or the remarriage of the supported spouse. It will also terminate upon reaching the number of years specified in the Court Order or Agreement in the case of limited duration alimony or rehabilitative alimony.

Absent a specific provision in an agreement which allows for termination of alimony at a specifc point in time, the matter will be analyzed by Judge to determine if there is still need for alimony and whether the payor should be required to continue to pay for same. It is best to have an experienced attorney to help navigate this fact sensitive area. Gourvitz & Gourvitz, LLC has vast experience in this arena and can assist you when the time comes.