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Retirement And Modification Of Alimony Obligations


The older you get, the more you realize that “retirement age” is not a specific number.  The professions that require you to stop working once you reach a certain age are the exception rather than the rule.  You may have met people who love their jobs so much that, even though they are in their 70s, they have no plans to retire; this phenomenon especially tends to occur in the legal profession and academia, arguably the most fun jobs in the world.  Meanwhile, personal finance websites make it sound like, once you have X amount of money in your savings account, you can retire, no matter how young you are.  For most people, the decision to retire is not based on such rosy circumstances; many people retire simply because they are no longer healthy enough to continue working, even if they have not reached their lifetime financial goals.  Meanwhile, the court will grant your request to modify your alimony obligations if you experienced an involuntary change in financial circumstances, but not if you are voluntarily unemployed.  Are retirees voluntarily unemployed?  A Palm Beach County alimony lawyer can answer these questions and other questions about alimony and retirement.

Sufficient, Material, Permanent, and Involuntary

When Anthony and Amy separated, Anthony was employed as a firefighter, as he had been throughout their marriage, although he had been considering retirement for several years.  In September 2014, they signed a marital settlement agreement in which Anthony agreed to pay Amy $1,250.00 per month in durational alimony.  In the fall of 2014, Anthony participated in physical fitness drills for the fire department, and he performed so poorly on them that he decided to retire and applied for a retirement pension.  The family court finalized the divorce in December 2014, and the fire department approved Anthony’s retirement in 2015.

Now retired, Anthony was responsible for alimony payments he could not afford, so he applied to modify the alimony amount.  The court denied his petition after Amy argued that Anthony’s change in circumstances did not meet the requirements for reducing alimony obligations; the law she cited states that a paying spouse can only reduce their obligations because of a “sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary” change in circumstances, and she argued that Anthony had been contemplating retirement for years, and it was his choice to retire.  The appeals court reversed this decision.  It reasoned that courts should decide on a case-by-case basis whether retirement is a change in circumstances sufficient for reducing alimony obligations.  It should consider the former spouse’s health and the former spouse’s age relative to the age at which people in the former spouse’s profession normally retire.

Contact an Attorney for Help

A Boca Raton alimony lawyer can help you persuade the court that you should not have to work until you drop dead just to continue paying alimony to fund your ex-spouse’s lifestyle.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation.



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