Stop Alimony After Retirement? Colorado law provides that a retirement after reaching the social security retirement age (which is currently 67 for those born in 1960 or later) creates a “rebuttable presumption” that the retirement is in good faith. C.R.S. 14-10-122(2)(b). While this presumption definitely favors the payor, that is not the same as stopping paying alimony after retirement. The spouse receiving spousal support still has two to continue receiving the payments:
- Rebut the presumption that the retirement was in good faith, or
- Based upon the parties’ finances, at least some alimony is still appropriate.
One family law judge in Colorado recently went too far with this, and when the maintenance payor (who had reached the appropriate retirement age) filed a motion to terminate maintenance on the grounds that he was in poor health and planned to retire, the trial judge granted the motion and decided that alimony stopped upon retirement. But the judge did not give the payor’s former wife the opportunity to challenge the retirement at a hearing, or to argue for the continuation of alimony after retirement.
And worse, the court terminated maintenance based upon the retirement alone, without considering whether the parties’ financial circumstances warranted termination or the continuation of at least some alimony. In effect, the judge just decided there was no alimony after retirement.
Review Alimony After Retirement, Not Terminate
In Thorstad, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, and held that even a good faith retirement did not result in automatically paying no alimony after retirement. Instead, the retirement would be the beginning of the following inquiry:
- Whether the decision to retire was in good faith, and
- If so, then the financial impact of that decision was just one of the factors the court is required to consider when determining whether there was a substantial and continuing change in circumstances sufficient to modify or terminate maintenance.
Thorstad, ¶ 43.
It is hard to conceive of someone’s retirement after turning 67 being deemed bad faith. It would take an extreme case, and the only image which comes to mind is a stereotypical master criminal who reveals his entire plot to the hero – or in this case, a payor sending an email saying “I’m done. I’ve reached age 66, am retiring just to avoid paying you alimony.” Such a confession of bad faith seems pretty unlikely in the real world.
At Graham.Law, we have never seen a family law judge deem a retirement bad faith once the payor has turned 67 years-old.
But even assuming a good faith retirement, in deciding whether to continue or stop alimony the court will consider both parties’ financial resources, including social security payments, monthly retirement pensions, IRAs and 401(k)s, other savings, the parties’ bills, etc. There simply is no hard & fast rule about what happens to alimony upon retirement.
What to do Before Retiring if Paying Alimony
If you are paying maintenance or child support and thinking of retiring, the two takeaways regarding alimony after retirement are:
- Talk to a family law attorney about how best to proceed before you actually give notice to your employer, and before you let your ex know of the possible retirement.
- Unless your separation agreement or decree explicitly ends maintenance upon retirement, don’t count on alimony necessarily ending at retirement – instead, you will need to be ready to prove why it should end, taking into consideration your retirement, as well as all other financial considerations.
And if you are the payee, the former spouse receiving alimony, do not assume that retirement necessarily ends the maintenance obligation. Instead, upon receiving notice, talk to an attorney about your options, and information that might be needed to assess the impact of retirement on the payment of maintenance.
FAQ – Stopping Alimony After Retirement
What happens to alimony when you retire?
Nothing happens automatically to alimony upon retirement in Colorado, unless the spouses agreed at divorce that it would end then. Instead, the payor spouse must file a motion to modify or terminate spousal support payments.
How does retirement affect alimony?
When the payor stops working, typically he/she will have a lower income from which to pay alimony, which would often result in a reduction in the alimony payments, if not a complete termination.
Does permanent alimony end at retirement?
If spouses have agreed to “non-modifiable” alimony, without mentioning retirement, then the payments will continue after retirement. However, if there is simply no expiration date for the alimony, then it would usually be reviewed at retirement upon request by either spouse.
How is spousal support calculated after retirement?
When calculating alimony after retirement, the court is required to consider both spouses’ financial resources, which is not just income, but also includes savings, and the retirement accounts each spouse will be using after retirement.
How to get alimony reduced at retirement?
To reduce alimony at retirement, the paying spouse must first make sure the retirement is in good faith, after reaching the Social Security retirement age. Then, he will have to demonstrate that his income has decreased, so he has a reduced ability to pay spousal maintenance.
More Information About Alimony After Retirement
See the article Child Support & Alimony After Retirement in the Colorado Family Law Guide for a more in-depth discussion about the impact a retirement may have on the payment of child support or maintenance. And be sure to see our post on including Social Security as income for maintenance.
Award-Winning Alimony Lawyers in Colorado Springs
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