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What effect does retirement have on spousal support obligations?

What affect does your retirement on Social Security have on your spousal support payments?

This is an important question that you want to discuss with your attorney -- probably in advance of your retirement since the rules in Nebraska on when you can and cannot obtain a modification of your support can be somewhat complicated.

In general, Nebraska allows you to modify your support order if there's a material or substantial change in your circumstances. Going from a well-paying job to a much more restrictive Social Security retirement certainly is likely to qualify as a material change.

In addition, your ex-spouse, as long as he or she was married to you for 10 years or longer and is over age 62, could be entitled to spousal benefits on your Social Security record. Entitlement also depends on what that spouse would be able to collect on his or her own record. It may be possible to mitigate the amount of spousal support you owe by asking the court to order your spouse to file for those benefits and then include them in the spousal support calculations if the court is unwilling to terminate the benefits entirely.

Where Nebraska law can get tricky in these situations, however, is that a petition to modify or terminate support won't be considered if the change in your financial situation is determined to be essentially voluntary or a waste of your abilities. Generally speaking, unless you have been forced out of your job for some reason, retirement is a voluntary action -- although the court may be inclined to see it as a necessary action due to your age and health. You don't want to assume that's what will happen, however. It may help bolster your case if you have a doctor's statement that retirement is necessary for your health.

One of the most important things to remember is that there won't be any changes to your support obligation unless you approach the court and ask for it.

For more information on post-divorce spousal support modifications, speak to an attorney today.

Source: Nebraska Legislature, "Nebraska Revised Statute 42-365," accessed June 01, 2017

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