Spousal Support Modification

If you are married and have children, you know that the childrearing responsibilities aren’t always equal. Often, one spouse works more while the other bears more responsibility for childcare, cooking, household maintenance, and similar tasks.

Even though this situation works out well for many married couples in San Antonio and surrounding areas, if they decide they want a divorce at some point, it can create a difficult situation. The spouse who stays at home may even put their career on hold or forgo advancement in their career due to their responsibilities at home. They also may have lost several years in the workforce or been unable to return to school to further their knowledge and skills.

However, one spouse staying at home meant the couple did not have to pay for childcare, housekeeping services, or other types of professional services. While one spouse was working, both parties were contributing to the relationship financially in some way.

The judge over your divorce case will understand this and may provide spousal maintenance to the spouse who stayed at home.

Spousal Maintenance Defined

In the state of Texas, when a couple files for divorce, the spouse who remained in the home may request to receive spousal maintenance, which is also called alimony or spousal support.

This means that when the divorce is finalized, the person who spent their time working outside the home will be ordered to pay a monthly amount to the one who did not.

This is not the same thing as the division of assets or child support payments that may be provided in a divorce. The goal of spousal support is to make sure the spouse who remained in the home can provide for their basic needs after the divorce. For example, they may have to pay for groceries, a mortgage, car payments, and more. Spousal support benefits not only the adult, but their children, as well. They can also use the spousal support payments to cover the cost of job training to get back into the workforce. It is up to the spouse receiving the payment to decide how these funds are used.

Spousal Maintenance Terms

It’s important to understand that spousal maintenance doesn’t go on forever. There are also caps. For a couple who was married for 10 to 20 years, spousal maintenance can last a maximum of five years. If a couple was married for 20 to 30 years, then spousal maintenance can last for seven years; and it will last for 10 years if the marriage lasted for 30 years or more.

Spousal support will end if one spouse passes away, if the person getting the maintenance remarries, or if the court finds out that the person receiving the payment is living with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

In Texas, the working spouse may have to pay $5,000 or 20% (max) of their gross monthly income for spousal maintenance, whichever amount is less. The court will determine the amount of spousal maintenance during the divorce process.

Understanding Spousal Support Modification in Texas

The amount of spousal maintenance ordered will be stated in the final divorce decree. You may wonder what the grounds for spousal support modification are, or if this is even possible.

In Texas, spousal maintenance can only be reduced, not increased. To have the spousal support amount modified (reduced), it’s necessary to file a motion to modify and present evidence that justifies the request you make.

Any type of significant changes in your circumstances must be proven by the party requesting a modification. It’s also worth noting that your ex-spouse cannot file a countermotion to have the amount of spousal support increased, and no independent motions to modify can be filed by the other spouse requesting an increase in spousal maintenance.

To start the process, you need to file a modification request and have it served on your ex-spouse, as you would with any other civil lawsuit filing in Texas. It’s recommended that you hire spousal support modification lawyers to help with this process. After your spouse is served, they are required to file a response to the request within a set amount of time; then a hearing will be scheduled. At this time, you and your ex-spouse will present evidence of why the spousal maintenance should be reduced or maintained at its current amount.

Standard evidence used in a Texas modification case is to prove that a significant change in circumstances have taken place since the last time you were in the courtroom. There may have been a change in your life or the life of your ex-spouse. The court will compare your financial circumstances from then and now, along with the financial circumstances of your ex-spouse.

Spousal Maintenance After the Divorce is Final

Is it possible for one spouse to request spousal maintenance after the divorce is finalized? This is an issue that may occur in some situations.

In Texas, however, this is not an option. Once the divorce is finalized, there’s no way to have spousal maintenance added to the orders.

Enforcing a Spousal Maintenance Order in Texas

Whether you agreed to spousal maintenance during mediation or it was ordered by a judge, you are required by law to pay it.

Contempt of court proceedings, however, apply only to cases where spousal maintenance was ordered by the court. Contempt of court occurs when one party violates a court order, in front of the judge or outside of the court. Failure to abide by a court order can result in several different types of punishment, which may include jail time, although this is unlikely in the case of non-payment of spousal maintenance.

Some Texas courts have ruled that if you and your ex-spouse agreed to the spousal maintenance payment, contempt could be a possible enforcement option if there’s a violation of the issued court orders. To avoid issues with the language in the divorce order, your attorney needs to ensure it’s clear regarding each party’s responsibilities related to spousal maintenance.

FAQs About Spousal Maintenance Modification

How do I modify a spousal support agreement in TX?

The first step in this process is to file a motion to modify/reduce the spousal support payment in court and provide evidence that justifies the request you have made. You must show any significant change in circumstances. It’s important to note that your ex-spouse is not allowed to file a countermotion to have the maintenance amount increased.

How hard is it to modify spousal support?

The process of modifying spousal support requires you to file a motion with the court. You should hire an attorney to help with this to ensure your request is successful. In most cases, the only way a modification/reduction will be approved is if you have proof that there has been a significant change in your or your ex-spouse’s situation.

How do you win a spousal support modification case?

If you want to win your spousal support modification case, it’s necessary to show a substantial change in your circumstances or your ex-spouse’s circumstances. Presenting this evidence to court will provide you with grounds to have the amount changed. Just remember, spousal support will only be reduced or maintained; it will never be increased from what the initial amount was set to be.

Can you sue to receive spousal support in Texas?

Spousal support is a common part of divorces in Texas, and across the U.S. Even though Texas law provides the option of spousal support, which is called spousal maintenance, your situation must meet certain requirements. Also, once the divorce is finalized, one spouse cannot request for this to be paid. It must be sought while the divorce is being settled.

Handling Cases of Spousal Support Modification in Texas

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to ensure that the spouse who earns less or who may not work at the time of the divorce can continue to live comfortably even after the divorce. There are time limits on how long spousal support must be paid, and these are typically determined by the length of the marriage.

It’s a good idea to utilize the services of attorneys that have experience handling these types of cases and situations to help you achieve the best possible outcome. If You need help with your spousal maintenance modification case, contact our legal team at Amsberry Law Firm by calling (210) 354-2244.

Our legal team can provide you with the legal services you need to ensure that you get the desired outcome for your case. Being informed and getting in touch with our Texas divorce lawyers will pay off in the long run. The first step is to call us; we will be happy to discuss your options.

Attorney Russell Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry founded the Amsberry Law Firm in 1995 with the goal of providing clients with exceptional, focused representation on their issues. His success as a legal advocate has been reflected in the numerous professional honors he has received, such as speaking engagements and inclusion in Scene in SA magazine’s listing of the best lawyers in San Antonio, a Distinguished rating from Martindale-Hubble, and an amazing rating from Avvo. [ Attorney Bio ]