Don’t consider retirement without reevaluating your spousal maintenance plan

Written by Josh Brekken, Attorney & Chris Johnson, Attorney


Family Law IconFinalized divorces may not feel very final if you still pay or receive spousal maintenance (commonly referred to as “alimony”). And yet, it often becomes a matter of routine. Whether your divorce was settled last year, last decade, or before the disco era, you may be on auto-pilot when it comes to spousal maintenance. But if you pay or receive spousal maintenance and are considering retirement in the next few years, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney regarding how retirement impacts your spousal maintenance.

Do you know what will happen with your spousal maintenance upon retirement? Nothing is automatic. Did your final divorce paperwork include specific stipulations for what happens to spousal maintenance when one of you retires? If not, or if you’re not sure, don’t wait to address it. A qualified spousal maintenance attorney can evaluate your individual case and help you make a plan to optimize your life in retirement.

Even if your spousal maintenance arrangement appears relatively straightforward on the surface, it can be an extremely complicated and uncertain legal issue, particularly at retirement.

Spousal maintenance is determined based on one person’s ability to pay and the other person’s need. If you pay or receive spousal maintenance, you probably know that. But at retirement, new rules can apply. It’s not only a spider’s web of income and budgets—we look at retirement assets and income and budgets, and the interplay between all three with each party. Some of it was divided and awarded as part of the divorce. Some you accumulated before or after the divorce. Do you know which is vulnerable in retirement for purposes of spousal maintenance?

It’s enough to make you want to run away and retire today. Preferably on a relaxing, secluded beach.

Don’t stress. We can help.

Every situation is different, and there are no guarantees. But in most cases, having an experienced spousal maintenance attorney on your side can significantly affect your case. At Johnson/Turner Legal, we’re uniquely qualified to address the complexities of updating spousal maintenance. We’ve even presented on the subject, training other attorneys.

And while retirement is a triggering event for most people, we can also help you reevaluate spousal maintenance obligations in the case of job loss, demotion, promotion, or any other change in your employment.

If you’re approaching retirement, you’ve probably already consulted with a financial planner to protect the assets you’ve worked so hard for. Think of consulting with an attorney as an equally critical component of retirement planning. That beach might be closer (or further) than you think.