Q: If I take early retirement prior to divorce, will my earning potential still be used for alimony consideration?
I plan to retire from a high paying job. I expect to divorce shortly thereafter (1-2 years). My spouse of 20 years has not worked (initially to raise kids, then simply refused) for the duration of the marriage. We are both in our mid 50's. Division of community assets would leave us each a millionaire (say $1.5m each), with me also retaining some premarital investments above that (say $500k). I would be leaving California to live in a more affordable area with substantially lower cost of living / salaries. Would my residual earning potential be used in any alimony consideration, effectively forcing me back to work to support her California lifestyle?
A: It is a factor the court will consider. Some judges will give it more consideration, some less, hard to know. If you can work, make good money and it appears you may have retired in anticipation of divorce, I believe the court will give great consideration to your earning ability. Spousal support is designed to help maintain the standard of living a spouse experienced during marriage, so if she stays in California, asistance maintaining a California standard of living is the appropriate benchmark.
In California, when determining alimony, the court considers various factors, including the earning capacity of both spouses, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the financial needs and obligations of each party. Your decision to take early retirement may be taken into account, along with other factors, when assessing alimony. However, it's essential to consult with a family law attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and potential implications of retirement on alimony considerations.
James L. Arrasmith
Founding Attorney and Chief Lawyer of The Law Offices of James L. Arrasmith
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