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Can you retire if you’re paying alimony to your ex?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | family law |

Alimony is typically meant to be temporary and is traditionally used to give a divorcing spouse who has been out of the workforce a chance to get the education, skills and experience they need to become self-supporting after divorce. However, some spouses, because of their age, health or other reasons, can never reasonably be expected to provide for themselves.

New Jersey doesn’t have the option of permanent alimony. But, it does have “open durational” alimony, which can serve the same purpose.

If you’re a spouse who is paying alimony with no end date in sight, what does this mean for you if you’ve reached the age where you’d like to retire – or maybe need to retire because you’re no longer able to meet the physical or other demands of your job?

What factors will a judge consider?

If you’re at a reasonable retirement age, you can seek a modification to your spousal support order. Typically, these orders can be changed as life and work warrant. Retirement typically qualifies as a valid reason for modifying or even ending support payments.

There are a number of factors a judge will consider. For example, what are the recipient’s other sources of income? If they’re getting into their senior years as well, they may be able to get Social Security retirement benefits (or Social Security spousal benefits), IRA distributions and more. If they’re disabled, they may already be getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

They’ll also look at whether you’re retiring because you choose to, the demands of the job are too much at your age or your profession has a mandatory retirement age. If you’re at an age where you can start taking Social Security retirement benefits, you’ll likely have an easier time convincing a judge to modify or end your alimony payments than someone who decided to quit working and sail around the world at 50.

Of course, a judge may still consider your own sources of income after retirement and your assets. The goal is to be fair to both parties. They’re not going to leave one party destitute if the other has millions of dollars in retirement savings and considerable income from those accounts.

If you’re considering retirement and are unsure about the effect of your alimony payments, your best first step is to get experienced legal guidance. Having financial guidance can also help you as you seek a modification to your support obligations.