When a couple divorces in Texas, the court may award alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) to the financially disadvantaged party. Depending on the purpose, alimony can be paid as a lump sum or over a period of time.
While the court may direct you to pay spousal maintenance, the terms are usually subject to your circumstances. However, your ability to pay alimony may change – and before you know it, you might find yourself in trouble with the court for failing to follow a court order. Or, something may change that makes you feel the alimony is unfair.
So, when can you modify the alimony? Here are two instances:
Remarriage or cohabitation
Your obligation to your ex ends when they remarry or get into cohabitation with a romantic partner. Thus, spousal maintenance automatically stops either of these happens – and the payee can be forced to return any overpayments. (However, if you are behind in alimony payment, you will still be required to pay the amount you owed to your ex before they got married.)
Material and substantial changes in circumstances
If there is a material and substantial change in your circumstances since the initial alimony order, then you may have grounds for petitioning the court to modify spousal maintenance payments. Here are some of the changes in circumstances that might warrant alimony modification:
- Loss of your job or other sources of income
- An increase in your ex’s income (and decrease in need)
- A disabling medical condition that impacts your earning capacity
Yes, spousal maintenance can be modified. Knowing your legal options can help you safeguard your rights and interests while modifying alimony payments in Texas.