IA Alimony Can Continue Past Retirement

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: divorce.

In re Marriage of Steven Michael Gust and Linda Leann Gust. IA divorce

This was a divorce appeal from Polk County.

Based upon the respective earning capacities of the spouses, the Supreme Court first held that the trial court's award of $2000 per month in permanent spousal support did not fail to do equitky. The high court then turned to the issue of the effect of the payor spouse's future retirement. It held that the best approach would be to follow In re Marriage of Michael, 839 N.W.2d 630 (Iowa 2013), and held that and the question was not ripe for review, and could not be decided prior to the spouse's actual retirement. The court noted that many important facts were not known, such as when the spouse would actually retire, and what the other spouse's needs would be at that point. In addition, even though the spouse retired, his actual income would not be known, since there were the possibility of continuing consulting.

The Court also noted that a modification of support required analysis of specific statutory factors, which were also unknown in advance.

Justices Wiggins, Waterman, and Mansfield dissented in part, and argued that the burden of proof should have been on the payee spouse to show that income would continue after retirement age.

No. 13-0356 (Iowa Jan. 16, 2015)

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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