In Florida, a new alimony law took effect on July 1, 2023, that establishes a new process for an alimony obligor (paying ex-spouse) to ask the court to reduce or end their spousal-support obligation because of the payor’s voluntary retirement. This can relieve the payor from the specter of making alimony payments on a retirement budget even with one foot in the grave.
How to get to hocus pocus
Asking the judge for this relief is no mystery. Six months or less before a planned retirement, the payor can file a petition in state court asking for modification of the alimony obligation upon “reasonable and voluntary retirement.” The court may deny or grant the petition, in witch case it may reduce or eliminate the obligation.
What goes into the potion?
The court must throw several factors into the cauldron and mull them over in making the decision. First, the obligor must either be at normal retirement age (as the Social Security Administration defines it) or at the “customary” retirement age for people in the obligor’s industry or profession. Second, the person must have already retired or have “taken demonstrative and measurable efforts or actions to retire …”
The petitioning obligor has the burden to prove that retirement will reduce their ability to make the alimony payments. If the court agrees, then the obligee (ex-spouse receiving alimony) must prove that the alimony should not be decreased or terminated.
The judge must consider required factors used to determine an initial alimony award as well as several additional factors in the new retirement provisions. Some include:
- Regarding the obligor: Age, health, type of work and customary retirement age, reasons for retiring, chances of resuming work, history of compliance with their spousal support obligations
- Regarding the alimony recipient: Needs, ability to meet basic needs, financial impact of a potential reduction or end of alimony
- Both parties: Broad look at historical, current and future income, retirement and assets of each, including Social Security; wasting by either of marital assets received in divorce judgment
Unweaving the tangled web
Considering that these retirement provisions are new with little to no court interpretation, it is smart for an alimony obligor considering retirement to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer to understand the impact on the person’s circumstances. Likewise, any alimony recipient concerned about their ex-spouse’s retirement and its potential impact on payments should seek skilled legal counsel, especially if opposing a petition to reduce alimony at retirement.