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Do You Need to Pay Alimony Post-Retirement?

Divorcing later in life raises unique questions. Whether you’ve been married for a long time or not, you have different concerns after age 50. For example, you likely have pressing concerns about your divorce may affect your retirement, especially if alimony is involved.

These concerns are perfectly reasonable. Alimony or spousal support orders can take up a significant portion of your budget, making it more difficult to maintain your standard of living after you retire. Here’s what you need to know about alimony and retirement in Oregon.

When Is Alimony Ordered?

In Oregon, alimony is referred to as spousal support, which better describes what these orders are intended to accomplish. Spousal support ensures that neither partner struggles financially after a marriage or domestic partnership ends. The most common situations in which alimony is ordered is when there is a significant income gap between partners, or one spouse may be unable to financially provide for themselves after the divorce.

Oregon judges can order three types of support to accomplish this goal:

  • Transitional: Temporary payments intended to help the recipient pursue education or training to enter or advance their careers.
  • Compensatory: Payments to reimburse the recipient for their contributions to their partner’s earning capacity, such as working while their spouse was pursuing education, paying off their student loans, or quitting their job to care for the household while their partner worked significant hours.
  • Spousal maintenance: Orders to supplement the recipient’s income and maintain their standard of living after the end of a long-term marriage.

In each of these cases, the funds help the recipient maintain their standard of living despite the loss of the paying party’s income. Judges may order more than one type in the same divorce, depending on the facts of the case. The type, length, and amount of alimony ordered will vary with the judge, the length of your marriage, your respective ages, and many other factors.

Spousal Support and Retirement Concerns

How alimony will affect your retirement depends on the type of orders issued in your divorce. Both transitional and compensatory orders are temporary and rarely are ordered to last longer than about half the length of the marriage. These orders have a fixed end date, so you should clearly know whether they will extend into your retirement.

But what happens to spousal maintenance alimony when you retire in Oregon? These orders may be indefinite, meaning they have no strict end date. Instead, they last until some status is reached. For example, it is common for indefinite maintenance orders to last until either party’s death or the recipient’s remarriage. 

This is permitted because spousal maintenance is only supposed to be ordered after long-term marriages or if the judge believes the recipient cannot find meaningful employment. For example, imagine a couple who divorced at age 60 after 30 years of marriage, during which one person who stayed home with the kids sacrificed their career. 

The judge may determine that they cannot find meaningful employment sufficient to maintain their standard of living for the five years before retirement and issue indefinite spousal maintenance. In this case, the paying party would need to continue paying maintenance even after they retire.

Can You Collect Social Security and Alimony at the Same Time?

Another common question regarding spousal support and retirement is how alimony is affected by Social Security. If you pay spousal maintenance, your ex-spouse’s Social Security income may sometimes be reduced. However, if they file for Social Security, the amount you pay them will not decrease. It is worthwhile to raise the point of how an order could reduce their other benefits when alimony is being determined or re-evaluated.

What to Do If You Cannot Afford Alimony After Retirement

Alimony payments are not supposed to be an undue burden on the paying party. If you are concerned about how spousal support could harm your retirement plans, you can talk to your divorce attorney about using the following tactics:

  • Negotiate a split of retirement accounts. If you have significant assets in your retirement accounts, you may be able to split these with your spouse during your divorce to reduce the amount of support you are expected to pay.
  • Request a time-limited spousal support order. If you split your retirement accounts and have a firm plan for when you will stop working, you may request that any alimony orders have definite time limits. Most judges are open to these requests if both spouses will have approximately equal income from retirement funds and pensions after retirement.
  • Petition for a modification. If you already have an order that will extend into your retirement and harm your standard of living, you may be able to petition for a modification. However, you might need to demonstrate that you experienced an unexpected, significant change in financial circumstances to have your petition approved and support reduced or ended. 

Consult Expert Oregon Alimony Lawyers at Regele Law, LLC

Spousal support shouldn’t put your financial future at risk. Whether you’re planning a divorce or you’ve already finalized your split, indefinite alimony orders can jeopardize your retirement plans. That’s why you should consult skilled divorce attorney Stacy Regele of Regele Law, LLC, if you have any concerns about spousal support after retirement. The team at Regele Law, LLC, specializes in providing skilled legal counsel to people with divorce, alimony, and family law concerns in and around Salem, Oregon. Our experts can help you negotiate fair divorce decrees and support orders. We can also determine whether your alimony order is just and whether you have grounds to petition for a retirement spousal support modification. Learn more about how we can assist with your case by scheduling a consultation.