Business & Corporate Law


Trial court erred in granting husband’s petition to decrease his alimony obligation because husband’s stated desire to retire at some point in the future did not constitute a substantial and continuing change in circumstances or his ability to work.

The parties divorced in 2008 after 20 years of marriage. The marital settlement agreement provided for alimony for the homemaker wife. In 2016, husband filed to modify or terminate the alimony award based on a change of circumstances. Fifty-nine year old husband testified that his income would decrease when he turned 60 since he would no longer be eligible to be a managing partner of his law firm. He also testified as to multiple medical problems and that his doctor recommended that he reduce his work hours. Wife testified that her income from work, alimony and child support was not enough to meet her monthly expenses. Trial court granted husband’s petition and reduced his alimony obligation for two years and then terminated it. Wife appealed.

Wife argued that trial court abused its discretion when it relied on evidence regarding husband’s future desire to retire rather than on the evidence of the parties’ current financial and economic circumstances. The court agreed. Husband’s desire to retire in the future did not constitute a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that warranted a downward modification of alimony. Husband had not retired nor set a definitive retirement date. Furthermore, husband failed to show that his poor health had affected his financial circumstances, his ability to work or that the poor health was of a “continuing” nature. The court also noted that husband’s income had increased significantly since the entry of the original alimony order.

Wife waived the issue of the denial of her counterclaim asking for increased alimony by failing to develop the issue.

Reference: Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 41 PLW 317, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Speaker v. Speaker, PICS Case No. 18-03080 (Pa. Super. March 16, 2018)

Kindly visit our Alimony/Spousal Support or Family Law websites or contact one of our Family Law Attorneys, Philadelphia or Divorce Attorneys, Philadelphia at 215-977-8200 for more information on this topic.