Spousal Support and Retirement

| Aug 22, 2018 | Uncategorized |

When people that have been married for many years divorce close to the time when they also might be retiring, spousal support can get a bit complicated. Obviously, the spouse making less money wants the max amount of spousal support they can obtain. After all, most couples in this situation have been married for over twenty years and have been planning their retirement assuming that they would still be married. Often times these couples have a home that is nearly paid for, a sizeable retirement (sometimes only one party has retirement), and nearly no debt. Now that they are getting divorced, the individual with the large retirement account and the higher paying job doesn’t want to support their ex-spouse any longer but the individual that may deserve spousal support would be left with nothing if they weren’t given some spousal support award. Courts often award spousal support to that disadvantaged spouse, normally for a significant period of time. Now, let’s say that 10 years later the higher earning individual retires and his income drops significantly. Does that mean that the disadvantaged spouse should stop receiving spousal support or receive a lesser amount?

A spousal support award can be changed only upon a finding of a change of circumstances not contemplated at the time of the divorce. Does the fact that the higher earning individual knew they were going to retire at the time of divorce mean that the retirement was “contemplated” at the time of the divorce and therefore, not a change of circumstances? The Court in Stevens v. Stevens, 2018-Ohio-2662,[1] held that although the retirement was “foreseeable” it was not “taken into account” at the time of divorce. In other words, just because Mr. Stevens knew he was going to retire at the time of the divorce did not mean that the spousal support award took his retirement (and decrease in income) into account.[2] Spousal support and retirement issues can be complex, so if you think you may have this issue in your divorce, please give us a call to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

[1] https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/2/2018/2018-Ohio-2662.pdf

[2] Stevens v. Stevens, 2018-Ohio-2662 at 8.