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4 Feb. 2016

Modifying Long-Term Spousal Support at Retirement

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

California law considers marriages lasting ten years or more to be long-term marriages. When long-term marriages end in divorce, the presumption is that the higher earner will pay spousal support to the lower earner. The longer the marriage, the longer the period of time that the support will have to be paid. Usually, a support order in the long-term marriage context will be in place until the death or either party, the remarriage of the person receiving the support, or a further court order. Under certain circumstances, modifications to support can be made. Retirement is one such circumstance in which a person may seek to modify spousal support payments.

Spousal Support & Your Right to Retire

Pursuant to a fairly recent court case, In re Marriage of Reynolds (1998), a California resident has the right to retire at the age of sixty-five. This means that a California resident cannot be compelled to continue working past that age simply to pay spousal support at the current level. Thus, the supporting party’s change in circumstances (retirement) may be sufficient to warrant a decrease in or termination of the support obligation.

The court will consider the following key elements, among others, when deciding whether to modify a support order:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Marital standard of living
  • The lower-earning spouse’s marketable skills
  • Each party’s age and overall health
  • Each spouse’s monthly income and expenses

Note that individuals who opt to retire early (before the age of 65) may not be eligible for a modification on the basis of retirement.

Whether you can modify or terminate your existing obligation depends upon the unique circumstances and facts of your case. If you are nearing retirement and are seeking to modify or terminate your spousal support obligation, we invite you to contact The Buncher Law Corporation to make an appointment with an Orange County divorce lawyer. We would be happy to discuss your case with you and advise you on how best to proceed.

Categories: Modification
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