Alimony when overpaid and had planned early retirement


I have been at my current job a long time and recieved annual increases to the point where I am literally off the charts when I look at salary surveys for my job. I have looked at job listings and talked to recruiters and if I have to change jobs, I will likely be looking at positions that pay 40% of what I make now. What happens if I get laid off? Even if I find another job quickly, I am likely to be making far less. Is alimony always a set amountor can it be a percentage?

Along the same lines, I was planning to retire in my early 60s. I could easily do it on about 20% of my current income if I am reasonable about living expenses. I have been saving enough in retirement funds to do that, but not if I am still paying alimony as if I were making my current wage.


Alimony is based on the reasonable needs of the dependant spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. If your income decreases or you are laid off, and there is no evidence that you have decreased your income in a bad faith effort to avoid support, the court will have no reason to impute income to you based on your past wages.


Thanks for the response, but I am afraid I don’t understand. I am not divorced yet and this is my first marriage, so this is new to me and my understanding may be incorrect, but I thought the amount was decided when the divorce happens. I am not trying to get out of having to pay a lot if I am making a lot and continue to. It is largely a gut feel (based on some realisitic observations) but I will be very surprised if my position still exists in 5 years. I am good at what I do, but I don’t meet the educational requirements that many companies require for my position and a lot of people who do what I do are out of work. It could take several months to find a position that pays half of what I make and it is likely I would have to look at some for less than half.


There was also the other part of my question - what happens if I want to retire at a reduced income?


Alimony can be settled between the parties, without the involvement of the court, at any time after the parties separate. If the parties cannot agree and alimony is decided by the court, it is deceived at the same time (or after) equitable distribution is ordered, which may be before the divorce takes place.

If you chose to retire before alimony is decided, and are of appropriate retirement age, the court will base alimony on your income as it exists at that time.


OK, your answers indicate that I was not clear in what my question was or maybe I should use some rough numbers to describe the situation.

I make about $200K in a field where very few people make over $100K. I am good at it, but not so outstanding that I could get that somewhere else; they are paying for loyalty (annual raises compounding). I have no reason to think this job will end before the divorce, but there are no guarantees. But I will be surprised (pleasantly, byt surprised none the less) if it lasts 5 more years.

I am a few years (around 10 hopefully less, depending on how things go) away from retirement. Living in a paid off house, I could easily retire on $40k or less per year.

So here is the quandary - what if I divorce with a high salary then lose that job a year later and take a few months to find one at less than half the salary, work that for 5 or 6 years and then retire? Will the alimony adjust in steps?


If your income changes substantially after an award of alimony is ordered you may apply to the court for a modification based on a substantial change in circumstances. If alimony is outlined in a Separation Agreement, you must have provisions for modifying alimony based on a reduction in income. If an agreement is silent with respect to modification of alimony, the amount is non-modifiable.