Retirement Not Automatically Stop Alimony in Colorado

Older couple embracing in a park.

Does Alimony Stop or Continue After Retirement? Colorado law provides that a retirement after reaching the social security retirement age (which is currently 67 for those born in 1960 or later) creates a “rebuttable presumption” that the retirement is in good faith. C.R.S. 14-10-122(2)(b). While this presumption definitely favors the payor, the payee still has the ability to try to rebut the presumption and argue that the decision to retire was made in bad faith.

One Colorado court recently went too far with this, and when the maintenance payor (who had reached the appropriate retirement age) filed a motion to terminate maintenance on the grounds that he was in poor health and planned to retire, the trial judge granted the motion and decided that alimony stopped upon retirement. But the judge did not give the payor’s former wife the opportunity to challenge the retirement at a hearing, or to argue for the continuation of alimony.

And worse, the court terminated maintenance based upon the retirement alone, without considering whether the parties’ financial circumstances warranted termination or the continuation of at least some alimony.

In Thorstad,1In re: Marriage of Thorstad, 2019 COA 13. the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, finding that even a good faith retirement did not result in an automatic modification or termination of maintenance. Instead, the retirement would be the beginning of the following inquiry:

  1. Whether the decision to retire was in good faith, and
  2. If so, then the financial impact of that decision was just one of the factors the court is required to consider when determining whether there was a substantial and continuing change in circumstances sufficient to modify or terminate maintenance.

Thorstad.2In re: Marriage of Thorstad, 2019 COA 13, ¶ 43.

It is hard to conceive of a retirement after reaching the retirement age which would be deemed bad faith. The image which comes to mind is a stereotypical master criminal who reveals his entire plot to the hero – or a payor sending an email saying “I’m done. I’ve reached age 66, am retiring just to avoid paying you alimony.” Such a confession of bad faith seems pretty unlikely in the real world.

But even if good faith, in deciding whether to continue or stop alimony the court will consider both parties’ financial resources, including social security payments, monthly retirement pensions, IRAs and 401(k)s, other savings, the parties’ bills, etc. There simply is no hard & fast rule about what happens to alimony upon retirement.

What to do Before Retiring if Paying Alimony

If you are paying maintenance or child support and thinking of retiring, the two teaching points from this are:

  • Talk to a family law attorney about how best to proceed before you actually give notice to your employer, and before you let your ex know of the possible retirement.
  • Unless your separation agreement or decree explicitly ends maintenance upon retirement, don’t count on it necessarily ending – instead, you will need to be ready to prove why it should end, taking into consideration your retirement, as well as all other financial considerations.

And if you are the payee, the former spouse receiving alimony, do not assume that retirement necessarily ends the maintenance obligation. Instead, upon receiving notice, talk to an attorney about your options, and information that might be needed to assess the impact of retirement on the payment of maintenance.

More Information About Impact of Retirement on Alimony or Child Support

See the article Child Support & Alimony After Retirement in the Colorado Family Law Guide for a more in-depth discussion about the impact a retirement may have on the payment of child support or maintenance.

Award-Winning Family Law Attorney In Colorado Springs

U.S. News & World Report calls Graham.Law one of the Best Law Firms in America, and our managing partner is a Colorado Super Lawyer. Our family law attorneys have years of experience helping clients navigate the Colorado legal system. We know Colorado divorce & family law inside and out, from complex multi-million dollar property or child custody cases to basic child support modifications.

For more information about our top-rated El Paso County family law firm, contact us by filling out the form on the right or calling us at (719) 630-1123 to set up a free consult, or click on:

Colorado Family Law. Period.


  • Excellent discussion; fully answered all my questions with examples I could clearly understand

    Jane Rohr Avatar
    Jane Rohr
  • Carl Graham is by far the best divorce attorney I have used and would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for an ethical, knowledgable, fair attorney. My case was not your normal circumstanc... read more

    Gary Oldguy Avatar
    Gary Oldguy
  • As a former military spouse trying to collect my share of my ex's military retirement from California when the divorce decree and all the supporting documents were filed in Colorado i was apprehensive... read more

    Janine Pandher Avatar
    Janine Pandher
  • Where do I begin? Well AFTER have a consultation with another attorney ( who made me feel as though i was undeserving of his expertise) I was extremely apprehensive when coming to Graham Law. This was... read more

    Chris Whitfield Avatar
    Chris Whitfield
  • Mr. Carl Graham, Cindi (his paralegal), and the rest of his office staff helped us with a military divorce. Mr. Graham is very knowledgeable about military ways and processes. I appreciated the fact... read more

    Shelle Dier Avatar
    Shelle Dier
  • If you are searching for a divorce lawyer, first I would like to say I’m sorry you are going through this. It isn’t and easy road. I know sometimes things just don’t work out to save your marriage. Ho... read more

    Trevor Lisby Avatar
    Trevor Lisby
  • If you are searching for a divorce lawyer, first I would like to say I’m sorry you are going through this. It isn’t and easy road. I know sometimes things just don’t work out to save your marriage. Ho... read more

    Trevor Lisby Avatar
    Trevor Lisby
  • I called Graham law firm to schedule a consultation and spoke with Corinna. When beginning your search for information with any family matters there are many questions and a sense of anxiety of the u... read more

    Kathlena Williams Avatar
    Kathlena Williams
  • I was divorced in CO but moved to TX & had issues with my divorce decree from a previous attorney- after referrals from several other firms in CO regarding the best military law firm I went with Graha... read more

    Sarah DeLorean Avatar
    Sarah DeLorean
  • Very helpful initial meeting.

    Steven Babbitt Avatar
    Steven Babbitt
  • Carl and his team are awesome and super easy to work with. His knowledge is tremendous and he quickly handled my case despite me being across the country. I would do business with his team again and... read more

    Michael Brooks Avatar
    Michael Brooks
  • I was impressed by Graham Law in general but most impressed with Brian Boney. Brian is an excellent family law attorney. Attentive, detail-oriented, and hard-working, Brian surpassed my expectations f... read more

    Robert Weeks Avatar
    Robert Weeks
  • Mr. Grahm was professional, knowledgable and very prepared. He was also kind and understanding. He knew his military in's and outs. Because of this is got exactly what I was asking for... a swift a... read more

    MAMCO STAFF Avatar
  • I had the unpleasant task of taking my ex back to court. Carl was the person for the job. His attention to detail and professionalism got me the result I needed. Sincere thanks to Carl and his great s... read more

    Lisa Bruinsma Avatar
    Lisa Bruinsma
  • This firm is quite wonderful....very family and military oriented. Compassionate and patient, very understanding and will go to bat for you!!!!! Give them a call!!!!!

    Teresa Wilkie Avatar
    Teresa Wilkie
  • Brian did an amazing job helping me with a personal matter! Its not the first time I ask Brian for help, and every time he exceeds my expectations! Thank you for your kindness, understanding and suppo... read more

    Iryna Volynets Avatar
    Iryna Volynets
  • Divorce is never easy, but Carl and his warm team helped me navigate this very difficult time. This was a military divorce, so Carl's expertise helped me understand exactly what my options were as a f... read more

    Kara Longmire Avatar
    Kara Longmire
  • I have had two occasions that I have needed Carl Graham's assistance with child support issues and both times Mr. Graham and his team were amazing. Mr. Graham is straight forward and honest. I highly ... read more

    Jason Ragland Avatar
    Jason Ragland
  • Can't thank the team enough.

    Kevin Czarnecki Avatar
    Kevin Czarnecki
  • Very professional and extremely supportive throughout my needs.

    Doyle McNeil Avatar
    Doyle McNeil