One common question our family lawyers are often asked is, “How to modify alimony in Texas?” Is it even possible to request a modification of alimony after a divorce is final? The short answer is “Yes. Texas family law allows the modification of alimony.”
Years or months after the divorce, it is not uncommon for the payor spouse to ask the court to change the amount of spousal support that they were ordered to pay to the other spouse or terminate alimony altogether.
It is possible to modify alimony when the payor spouse has been furloughed, laid off, lost their job, had their working hours reduced, or there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. There are also other circumstances that justify a modification of alimony in Texas.
If you want to know how to modify alimony in Texas, talk to a Lampasas family law attorney to review your unique situation and determine whether you can change or terminate spousal support in your particular case.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Texas?
Alimony, which is commonly referred to as spousal support in Texas, does not last forever. In most cases, alimony is ordered based on the duration of the marriage. Texas family law recognizes the following time limits for how long alimony can last:
- In marriages that last 10 to 20 years and involve domestic violence, alimony will last 10 years.
- In all other marriages that last 10 to 20 years, the payor spouse will be ordered to pay spousal support for 5 years.
- In marriages that last 20 to 30 years, alimony payments will continue for 7 years.
- In marriages that last 30+ years, spousal support will be ordered for 10 years.
Note: These are the maximum time limits for spousal support in Texas. The payor or payee can request a modification of alimony at any time.
How Much Alimony Will I Be Ordered to Pay My Spouse?
Texas courts consider a lot of factors when determining how much the payor spouse will pay to the payee spouse. Under Texas Family Code § 8.055, the maximum amount of spousal maintenance is no more than $5,000 or 20% of the payor spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever is less.
To determine the exact amount of alimony, the court will review such factors as:
- The length of the marriage
- The spouses’ education level and earning capacity
- The spouses’ assets before the marriage
- The payor’s ability to pay alimony
- The payee’s need for alimony
- Any history of domestic violence
Other factors can be found in Texas Family Code § 8.052.
When Can I Modify Alimony in Texas?
There are not many circumstances that allow either party to request a modification of alimony in Texas:
- Either spouse dies;
- The payee is remarried;
- The payee is cohabitating with a romantic partner; or
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances.
Under Texas law, the payee spouse can continue receiving alimony payments until they get remarried. If the payee is getting married again, the payor does not even have to file a motion to modify alimony. Spousal support payments are terminated automatically upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony.
However, if you are behind on alimony payments, you will still have to pay the amount of spousal support owed to your ex-spouse before alimony is terminated upon remarriage.
Texas law recognizes cohabitation as a romantic or sexually intimate relationship between two individuals who live together on a long-term or permanent basis.
You have grounds to modify alimony if you find out that your ex-spouse started cohabitating with a new romantic partner. However, unlike remarriage, spousal support payments do not cease automatically.
You will have to file a motion and obtain a court order to terminate alimony due to your former spouse’s cohabitation with a new partner. If the payee spouse denies cohabitation, you will have to demonstrate evidence to prove that he/she is actually living with a romantic partner.
Contact an experienced Lampasas family law attorney to help you prove that your ex-spouse has a romantic or sexual relationship with another person to modify alimony.
A material and substantial change in circumstances
You may also petition the court to modify spousal support if you can prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the original order.
The following changes in circumstances may warrant a modification of alimony if they are “material” and “substantial”:
- A decrease in income for the payor.
- An increase in income for the payee.
- An increase n expenses for the payor.
- The payor’s involuntary loss of a job as a result of being fired, laid off, or furloughed.
- The payor has sustained a disabling injury or developed a serious medical condition that affected their earning capacity.
Texas courts review requests for a modification of spousal support based on a material and substantial change in circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
How to Modify Alimony in Texas?
If the petitioner can prove that any of these circumstances have occurred since the court order was put in place, the court may grant a modification or termination of spousal support. In order to modify alimony in Texas, the party requesting a modification must file a motion in the court that issued the original alimony order.
The motion to modify alimony must be served upon the other party. The respondent will need to file an answer to the petition. After service, the parties can proceed to a hearing where each party will have a chance to present their arguments and evidence for or against the modification.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a Family Lawyer in Lampasas
If you want to modify alimony, it is essential that you work closely with a Lampasas family law attorney to help you gather and present clear and convincing evidence that justifies a modification of spousal support. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our experienced family lawyers have the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to assist you with your alimony modification case in Texas. Schedule a free consultation by calling (254) 220-4225 or submitting this contact form.