How Does Your Retirement Impact Permanent Maintenance?

After a tough divorce involving adultery, an Illinois couple finally begins living their new normal. The wife decided to quit her job in a publishing house in Chicago to raise the couple's children. Due to that fact and the fact that the couple had been married for 30 years, the judge decided to award the wife permanent spousal maintenance. Now the husband, who is a surgeon, has decided to retire. The wife is concerned that she will no longer receive the spousal maintenance on which she depends. How does retirement impact permanent spousal maintenance in Illinois?

Permanent Spousal Maintenance is Not Always Permanent

The award of permanent spousal maintenance does not mean the spouse receiving the payments will receive them forever. Several different circumstances would allow a judge to stop permanent spousal maintenance payments, such as:

  • The death of the paying spouse
  • The recipient’s remarriage, or
  • A substantial change in the financial circumstances makes the original spousal maintenance award unfair or unreasonable.

Under Illinois law, the payor’s retirement can be considered a substantial change in circumstances. Unless the divorce decree states what will happen when the paying spouse retires, permanent spousal maintenance will not automatically end when the payor retires. Instead, the spouse who is retiring has to bring a motion to modify spousal maintenance. After examining the evidence, the court may decide to end the spousal maintenance. Alternatively, the court may modify the spousal maintenance by lowering the amount the paying spouse must pay.

How Difficult is it to Modify a Permanent Spousal Maintenance Award?

In the past, the typical retirement age was 65. Except for a few professions, there is no mandatory retirement age today. Now, it is common for people to work until they are 70 or even older. The increasing retirement age typically helps spouses who are receiving spousal maintenance. It is more difficult for a spouse to prove that he or she cannot pay maintenance payments when they are making a decent income by working full-time.

In Illinois, the paying spouse has a legal burden to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The spouse who would like to stop making spousal payments will need to show that he or she did not retire simply to avoid spousal maintenance obligations. The closer the paying spouses to age 65, the more likely the court will decide that retiring was a decision made in good faith.

The recipient of the spousal support may argue that the decision to retire was not made in good faith. Illinois courts will examine multiple factors when determining whether to stop or modify permanent spousal support. They will review the payor’s health, employment history, financial circumstances, and any other factor they find relevant to the determination.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Cook County Lawyer

If you are concerned about how retirement will affect permanent spousal support, you need a skilled lawyer on your side. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

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