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A paying spouse may be able to terminate or modify spousal support upon their retirement; it depends. Generally, unless the spousal support order or agreement says otherwise, to terminate or modify the spousal support award, the paying spouse must show (1) a material change of circumstances and (2) that the change justifies altering the amount of spousal support. It is possible that retirement may be a material change in circumstances; but the Court will want to know why is that person retiring at the specific time, how old is the person seeking to retire, does the payor have the ability to work, is retirement a voluntary choice. To justify terminating or modifying spousal support, the court would then look at the financial circumstances of both spouses, including each person’s earning potential. The court would also analyze certain factors like the parties’ assets, age, physical and mental health, and the length of the marriage. Although retirement may be a material change in circumstances, it is not always true that the retiring spouse is not able to pay spousal support post-retirement and the retiring spouse may or may not get relief from spousal support. These decisions are fact specific and it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney when you are considering retiring. — By Heather Wheelock Winter, Associate at Hall & Hall.

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