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Alimony is a post-divorce remedy that consists of a monthly payment from one spouse to the other that begins upon the entry of a divorce decree. If alimony is being paid pursuant to a provision in the parties’ property settlement agreement that is thereafter incorporated but not merged with the divorce decree divorcing the parties, the alimony payments may only be modified pursuant to the terms of the written agreement. In many instances, alimony provisions contained in a property settlement agreement are not modifiable, as the agreement will state. However, when alimony is ordered by a court, the alimony order is subject to modification and termination upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances pursuant to the Pennsylvania Divorce Code (23 Pa.C.S. Section 3701(e)).

Modifying an alimony order as a result of retirement is commonly discussed among family law practitioners. In the recent case of Speaker v. Speaker, __ A.3d __, 2018 PA Super. 58 (March 16), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the issue of the payor’s retirement in relation to the modification and termination of an alimony order. In the Speaker case, the husband and wife were married for approximately 20 years and the husband was a successful lawyer and managing partner of his law firm for approximately half of the marriage. The wife was a homemaker during the marriage and obtained her real estate license in 2005 (when the parties separated).

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