I’ve Retired – Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony?

When can I retire? Is there a golden age of retirement as it relates to alimony modification or termination?

Some courts have set the age of 65 as the threshold age of retirement. For example, a California court in In Re Marriage of Reynolds held that no one may be compelled to work after the usual retirement age of 65 in order to pay the same level of spousal support as when he was employed.  See In Re Marriage of Reynolds, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1373, 74 Cal. Rptr. 2d 636 (Cal. App. 1998). Calhoun v. Calhoun, 331 S.C. 157, 501 S.E.2d 735 (Ct. App. 1998), which found that the wife could provide her own means and did not need alimony when husband retired at age 74 and wife was 55 at time of his retirement, both were lawyers by profession, and husband’s post-retirement income was substantially less than when he was working).

However, South Carolina case law has not established a set age for retirement. Although no set age has been determined in South Carolina, case law offers some guidance regarding situations the courts deem warrant a modification or termination of alimony. For example, in Calhoun v. Calhoun, the South Carolina Court of Appeals found that the wife could provide her own means and did not need alimony when husband retired at age 74 and wife was 55 at time of his retirement; both were lawyers by profession, and husband’s post-retirement income was substantially less than when he was working. See Calhoun v. Calhoun, 331 S.C. 157, 501 S.E.2d 735 (Ct. App. 1998), rev’d on other grounds, 339 S.C. 96, 529 S.E.2d 14 (2000). Also, in an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals permitted a reduction in alimony where a 69-year-old husband retired from his job with a trucking company after 43 years. The Court of Appeals found that the husband suffered a material reduction in his income. It denied his request to terminate alimony, but reduced the amount he must pay. See Capell v. Capell, 90-MO-104 (Ct. App. 1990) (unpublished).

If there’s no set age in South Carolina, does my situation warrant a modification or termination?

South Carolina’s statutory law offers guidance. When the supporting spouse retires, South Carolina Code Section 20-3-170(b) states that a hearing can be set to evaluate whether there has been a change of circumstances for alimony, and the court must consider the following six factors:

  1. whether retirement was contemplated when alimony was awarded;
  2. the age of the supporting spouse;
  3. the health of the supporting spouse;
  4. whether the retirement is mandatory or voluntary;
  5. whether retirement would result in a decrease in the supporting spouse’s income; and
  6. any other factors the court sees fit.

 

As you can see, each situation presents its own analysis as to whether modification or termination of alimony is warranted.

At Hyde Law Firm, P.A., our team handles alimony hearings and alimony modification cases. Please contact us to see whether we can be of service to you.