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Retiring may not terminate alimony

In an earlier post, we discussed the various changes that may cause alimony to end, such as if one person died or remarried. Alimony may also end when the person paying the alimony reaches full retirement age.

Under Massachusetts law, there is a presumption that a person no longer has to pay alimony when he or she reaches full retirement age. Full retirement age is the age when a person is eligible to receive full Social Security retirement benefits. The retirement age is 65 for people born before 1938. For people born in 1938 or after, the retirement age goes up to 67. 

There are exceptions to this presumption. In some situations, a judge can order a person to continue paying alimony to his or her ex-spouse even if that person reached the retirement age. The judge must find that there is good cause to enter this order.  

A judge must consider a number of factors when deciding whether to deviate from the presumptive duration or amount of alimony. These factors include:

  • The age and health of either spouse;
  • Tax considerations;
  • Whether one spouse provides health insurance for the other spouse;
  • Whether one spouse has a life insurance policy naming the other spouse as a beneficiary;
  • Any sources of income or assets that were not allocated in the divorce;
  • Whether either spouse contributed financially to the couple prior to getting married;
  • A spouse’s inability to provide for his or her means due to physical or mental abuse by the other spouse;
  • A spouse’s in ability to provide for his or her means due to a lack of property, alimony, or employment opportunities; and
  • Any other relevant and material factor.

As this list of factors demonstrates, each case is very different. You should not assume that alimony will end simply because you or your spouse has reached full retirement age. To learn more about how alimony can be changed, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney. 

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