Spousal Maintenance: Starting Now Until Retirement?

Part II: When Retirement is Anticipated

Suppose that in a different divorce*, an award of permanent spousal maintenance is granted to the wife stating that the husband will continue his obligation until: 1) the wife remarries, 2) either party dies, or 3) the husband’s good faith retirement.

However it is clear that husband intends to retire within a year. Can the court, as a part of the divorce order, determine the step-down or termination of maintenance?

The Court of Appeals in the Carrick case examined such an issue. The husband testified at trial that he lost the ability to work overtime and was going to be demoted from his current employment position. As a result of husband’s testimony, the trial court calculated husband’s spousal maintenance obligation based on his anticipated reduced income. However, the Court of Appeals held “the trial court erred in relying on the change in income before it had actually occurred. Respondent’s maintenance obligation should have been calculated based on his income at the time of trial.”

Summary

An anticipated reduction in income may not be sufficient to establish a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of modifying spousal maintenance.

*Click here to see the first part of this Spousal Maintenance: Starting Now until Retirement? series.