Grounds for Spousal Support Modifications in Texas
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other after a divorce. It is meant to provide financial support to the lower-earning spouse and help them maintain a certain standard of living. However, circumstances can change after the divorce decree is finalized, and either spouse may find that their original order is no longer appropriate for the current situation.
In such cases, one of the parties may seek an official modification to their original support order. However, modifications are not automatic, nor are they guaranteed. Under Texas law, specific grounds must be met for spousal support modifications. Understanding these grounds can help you decide whether pursuing a modification is in your best interests.
In this blog post, we will discuss the grounds for spousal support modifications in Texas and what you need to know.
Circumstances That May Necessitate a Modification
The first and foremost ground for spousal support modification in Texas is a "material and substantial change in circumstances that occurred after the date of the order or decree." Some factors that the court considers when making modification decisions are the financial resources of both parties, the education and employment skills of the spouses, the duration of the marriage, and any history of family violence.
Common scenarios where someone may qualify for a spousal maintenance modification in Texas include:
- The receiving spouse has a significant increase in income.
- The receiving spouse receives a substantial inheritance or lottery winnings.
- The paying spouse loses their job or suffers a significant decrease in income.
- The paying spouse becomes disabled and is unable to work.
- The receiving spouse remarries or begins living with a romantic partner.
However, it's important to note that these are just examples of common scenarios, and each case is unique. Therefore, consulting with a family law attorney to guide you through the process is highly recommended if you believe you qualify for modifying your spousal support order under Texas law.
How to Seek a Spousal Support Modification in Texas
If you decide to seek a spousal support modification in Texas, it's important to understand the specific process you need to follow. Firstly, the request for change must be initiated by filing a motion in the court that originally issued the order. Either party affected by the order or decree is eligible to file this motion.
The filing of the motion follows a procedure similar to initiating a new lawsuit, as governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. After filing, you must serve a notice of motion to modify maintenance, essentially a formal citation, to the other party involved. The recipient then has until 10 a.m. on the first Monday, following 20 days from the date of service, to submit their response in the form of an answer.
After filing, the court schedules a hearing according to Rule 245 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. In this hearing, you need to present a convincing argument of a material and substantial change in circumstances since the date of the original order or decree.
Remember that any court-approved modification will only apply to payments due after the motion to modify was filed. Additionally, the court is prohibited from increasing the maintenance to an amount or duration exceeding that of the original order.
Consulting a Family Law Attorney: Why it Matters
Given the intricacies involved in the spousal support modification process, engaging a competent family law attorney could significantly improve your chances of success. Understanding legal jargon, filing appropriate motions, and presenting convincing arguments before the court are tasks that can greatly benefit from your attorney's specific knowledge and experience.
Remember, the main objective of your modification request is to secure a more favorable outcome for your circumstances, and an attorney's guidance can be crucial in achieving this goal. Therefore, consulting a family law attorney before proceeding with your spousal support modification request is highly recommended.
Do you need help with a spousal support modification? Contact The Clark Law Firmto schedule a consultation.