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How does retirement impact my financial obligations to my prior spouse?

How does retirement impact my financial obligations to my prior spouse?

Prior to the passage of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, retirement alone would not have impacted a payor’s financial obligations to her former spouse.  That changed on September 26, 2011 when the Governor signed into law House Bill 3617.  Now, G.L., c. 208, § 49 provides that “once issued general term alimony orders shall terminate upon the payor attaining the full retirement age.”   Full retirement age depends on the year in which the payor was born.  The table below, published by the Social Security Administration helps guide this determination:

Full Retirement By Year Of Birth

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier

65

1938

65 and 2 months

1939

65 and 4 months

1940

65 and 6 months

1941

65 and 8 months

1942

65 and 10 months

1943-1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 and later

67

Actual retirement is not required and need not be shown.  Indeed, the presumptive termination of general term alimony is purely  a function of age.  While the Court can extend alimony past a payor’s full retirement age, her ability to work thereafter is not a reason, standing alone, to extend it.  The recipient must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence,  and the Court must find, “good cause” to do so.   What qualifies as “good cause” has not yet been judicially determined, but would likely include an extreme disparity in incomes and earning capacities based on unforeseen medical conditions.