Receipt of Social Security benefits reduces alimony

In the recent decision of Harris v. Harris, the Court of Appeals ruled that a man’s alimony obligation would be reduced by the receipt of Social Security by the woman. The parties agreed to a divorce in 2011 and the man, a banker, agreed to pay his former wife $2755 per month in periodic alimony. Periodic alimony terminates upon remarriage or death. In 2015, the woman started receiving $1035 per month in Social Security. The man moved the court to reduce his alimony obligation by the amount of Social Security she was receiving. The court agreed. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed. The court rejected the woman’s argument that the man should have foreseen that she would receive Social Security and made a provision for a reduction in his alimony due to that foreseen event. The normal standard for changing alimony is that there is a material change in circumstances which could not reasonably have been anticipated that the time of the divorce. Relying upon case law and reasoning which supports a credit for Social Security in child support obligations, the court rejected the argument by the woman that the Social Security should not be credited against her alimony. NO. 2016-CA-00532-COA