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Can I retire if I’m still paying alimony?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Divorce

If you’re among the many spouses over 50 considering divorce, you may already be anticipating that you’ll be the one paying spousal support. If your spouse left the workplace to raise the kids and never got back into full-time work, it’s a real possibility (depending on many other factors, of course), that you will – at least for a time.

What does that mean for your retirement plans? If you’re fearing that you may not be able to retire until your support obligations are over, you can be reassured that you can indeed retire when the time comes, as long as you’re not clearly doing it to avoid paying support. Let’s take a brief look at what New Jersey law says about retirement and spousal support. 

First, alimony can be terminated or modified “upon the prospective or actual retirement of the obligor.” Typically, that time is considered to be when a person reaches “full retirement age” (FRA). The Social Security Administration considers that to be 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. That’s when you can get all the retirement benefits you’re owed by the SSA. 

Is the planned retirement date “reasonable and made in good faith?”

That’s what you’ll need to show if you decide to retire earlier that FRA and seek to lessen or end your alimony obligations. The court will typically consider things like:

  • The “generally accepted age of retirement” for those in your field
  • Any mandatory retirement age at your place of employment or if your profession
  • “Reasonable expectations” that you and your spouse had for your retirement during the marriage
  • The age and health of both you and your former spouse
  • Your former spouse’s finances
  • How reducing or ending your former spouse’s payments will affect them financially, including their ability to retire
  • Your anticipated post-retirement income (including Social Security retirement benefits, pension, veterans’ benefits and so forth)

Typically, the person planning to retire will file an application to modify or end their payments with the court. The payee then can file a response. Of course, it’s best if the two of you can agree on the change yourselves rather than have to argue back and forth through court filings. You may even decide during the divorce.

It’s wise to work out what will happen to your alimony obligations well before you get that last paycheck. With sound legal guidance, you can help ensure that your alimony obligations don’t dampen your post-retirement plans.


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