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Springfield Divorce Attorneys > Blog > Alimony > Help! Alimony Obligations Make Retirement Impossible!

Help! Alimony Obligations Make Retirement Impossible!


If you are forking over a huge alimony payment every month and it’s causing you to question whether you can afford to retire, perhaps you should look into whether spousal maintenance modification is an option for you.

Alimony in Missouri 

Spousal support is available to lesser earning spouses of either gender if they make the case that they require financial help.  While it is generally a short-term fix, each case is unique and considered on its own merits. The court will look at the individual’s reasonable needs, ability to work, and responsibilities for children. It may also consider any marital misconduct. Alimony might be paid in a lump sum, or in monthly installments. There are three types of alimony, or spousal maintenance, that can be awarded in the state of Missouri:

  • Alimony Pendente Lite, or Temporary: Ordered to temporarily support a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce is filed but before the divorce is finalized.
  • Periodic or Rehabilitative: Support that covers a specific time frame while a lesser-earning spouse works to develop skills and abilities in order to become self-sufficient, or to cover a time period while waiting for the sale of the marital home to be complete.
  • Permanent: Support for a lesser-earning spouse of a long-term marriage 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.


There’s no question that retirement usually means a reduction in 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. 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.

Modification of Spousal Support 

At the time the alimony order is issued, it will be listed as either modifiable or nonmodifiable. Both spouses will have to agree to the latter. As circumstances change, it may make sense to modify an alimony agreement. This can be done by increasing or reducing the amount awarded, changing the length of time that payments are required, or eliminating payments altogether. 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:

  • Retirement;
  • A change in physical health;
  • A change in work and earnings;
  • Remarriage;
  • Inflation;
  • 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 payer requesting to pay less based on greater financial demands or lesser earnings.

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 Courtney & Mills our Springfield family law attorneys will fight to get the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our Springfield office today.



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