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Help! I Want To Retire But Am Overwhelmed With Alimony Obligations


‘Til death do us part—it’s a phrase repeated by so many couples, but one that doesn’t seem to hold water like it did in the old days.  Divorce happens left and right these days, and for many, it can get complicated years down the road as individuals get older and earn less. Especially for individuals who have been ordered to pay huge monthly alimony payments, retirement can seem out of reach. But there may be an alternative to making those massive payments: modifying the requirement as circumstances change.

Alimony in Maryland 

There are three types of alimony that can be awarded in the state of Maryland:

  • Alimony Pendente Lite, or Temporary: Ordered to temporarily support a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce is filed but before the divorce is finalized.
  • Statutory or Rehabilitative: Support that covers a specific time frame while a lesser-earning spouse as they develop skills and abilities in order to become self-sufficient.
  • Indefinite: Support for a lesser-earning spouse who will likely never become self-supporting due to age or other reasons, and who requires financial help in order to maintain a standard of living closer to commensurate with the higher-earning spouse.

Modification of Alimony 

As circumstances change, a payor of alimony may wish to modify an alimony agreement.  This can be done by reducing the amount awarded or by changing the length of time that payments are required. A change cannot occur, however, unless there is clear evidence of a change in one spouse’s ability to continue making payments, or the other spouse’s need for continued support at the same level. A number of situational changes could be considered by a court, including:

  • A change in physical health;
  • A change in one’s work and earnings;
  • The earning capacity and wealth of either spouse.

To be clear, support modifications can go either way, with a recipient requesting more based on increases in a payor’s earnings or their own needs having increased, or a payor requesting to pay less based on greater financial demands or lesser earnings.


Certainly, retirement generally means a smaller income.  Should that correspond to a smaller alimony obligation?  While some courts have held that voluntary retirement is, indeed, a change that would warrant a reduction in alimony, other courts have concluded the opposite. Some of the circumstances considered include:

  • The age of the retiree;
  • Reasons for retiring;
  • Health of both parties;
  • Each party’s station in life;
  • Whether the retirement is considered early (such as before age 65);
  • The field from which one is retiring;
  • The needs of the recipient spouse;
  • Whether a spouse who retires early seeks additional employment.

Significantly, one court made the point that payors needn’t feel compelled to continue working simply to continue making alimony payments.  Rather, courts are obliged to consider all of the circumstances related to each individual case.

What’s Your Situation? 

If you are hoping to modify, or even eliminate your alimony responsibilities, you will need to demonstrate the need to make a change.  At The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, our Baltimore family law attorneys will fight to get the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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