Retirement Spousal Support Termination lawyers answer the key question: Can my spousal support obligations be terminated if I am retiring?
In Canada, Indefinite spousal support may be ordered in cases of long marriages of more than 20 years or where the Rule of 65 applies, which allows for indefinite spousal support if the recipient’s age plus the length of the relationship equals to or exceeds 65.
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However, indefinite spousal support does not necessarily mean permanent spousal support. It only means that no time limit is set at the time of the order or agreement. This means that indefinite spousal support orders are open to variation or review as circumstances change over time. Our top-rated* Retirement Spousal Support Termination lawyers handle cases to reduce or cancel spousal support or to oppose such claims.
Common changes in circumstances include a change in income, re-partnering or if the recipient spousal has become self-sufficient. Retirement is one of the most common changes in circumstances that could trigger a review of spousal support. Our Retirement Spousal Support Termination lawyers explain that the reason for retirement and the age of the spouse at retirement require scrutiny.
In the recent case, Beninger v. Beninger, 2019 BCSC 366, the court dealt with the husband’s application to terminate his spousal support obligations due to retirement under the Divorce Act. In an application to vary or terminate spousal support under the Divorce Act, the court looks at a two-stage test:
- Has there been a material change in circumstances of either former spouse since the order sought to be varied/terminated was made; and
- If there has been a material change, what variation is appropriate in light of the change in circumstances.
With the last element, the court is limited to making a variation that is justified by the change in circumstances. The variation must also be in line with the objectives of spousal support under s.17(7) of the Divorce Act. These are the same objectives that a court considers when the spousal support order is made.
Can my spousal support obligations be terminated if I am retiring?
As well, in cases of voluntary retirement as a material change, the court must carefully consider the circumstances of the retirement to ensure it is not motivated by a desire to avoid paying support.
In Beninger, the court agreed to terminate the payor husband’s spousal support obligations. The court found that payor husband’s decision to retire was reasonable given his retirement was at typical retirement age at 66 years old and his retirement was later than what he had previously anticipated with earlier court hearings. The court also found that the objectives of compensatory spousal support had been met. The parties’ only asset at the time of separation was the husband’s income-earning abilities and that had effectively been divided roughly equally through the spousal support payments.
If you are retiring and require assistance with changing or terminating your spousal support obligations, we would be happy to assist you with your legal needs.