When a Texas court orders you to pay child or spousal support, the terms generally reflect your circumstances at the time of the divorce or legal separation. But as we all know, life can change—fast. Before long, the stipulations of your divorce agreement or the family court order are no longer compatible with your new situation. Perhaps your hours at work were reduced, you have re-married and have another child to provide for, or your child has developed a special need that requires greater financial support.
Texas law permits you to seek a modification of a child or spousal support order, provided you can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.
Changes in Child Support
Modification of a child support order requires a substantial change in the financial means of the parent and/or the needs of the child. Examples include:
- You lost your job or received a promotion and substantial raise
- You became disabled and unable to work
- Your child has special needs that will continue after they graduate from high school or turn 18
In cases where the original support order was issued over three years ago, custodial parents can request an increase in child support to remain current with the present Texas child support guidelines. If, for example, you have custody of the kids and your ex-wife makes over $6,000 a month, you should be able to successfully obtain a support increase.
Under the three year rule, there is no need to prove a substantial change in your circumstances. If the anticipated change is at least $100 or an increase of more than 20%, Texas courts will likely order the new amount automatically.
Changes in Spousal Maintenance
A significant change in circumstances may also act as grounds for decreasing or terminating spousal support. The change can apply to either the paying or receiving spouse. If, for example, your income decreases substantially, you become disabled, or some other issue arises that changes your financial situation, you can ask the court to decrease or terminate the support payments.
Spousal maintenance ends at the date set by the court if no modification was requested or made before that date.
Texas law states that your obligation to pay spousal maintenance ends when your former spouse remarries. You can stop immediately, and there is no need to obtain an official order from the court. The main exception to this rule is if you owe back support payments at the time of the remarriage: those must continue to be paid until you are caught up. Additionally, if you were ordered to pay support in a lump sum or by transferring property to your ex-wife, her remarriage does not change this arrangement.
Cohabitation is another situation that affects your spousal support obligations. Under Texas law, if your former spouse enters into a romantic relationship with someone else and moves in with them (or vice-versa), you no longer have to pay support. Unlike remarriage, it’s not a case of simply stopping payments immediately. You must go to court with evidence of the new relationship and apply for an order to terminate the payments.
If your circumstances have changed to the extent that a child or spousal support modification is advisable, contact attorney Robert Von Dohlen. Robert will review your situation, advise you on the best course of action, and look out for your best interests from the moment you file your application. To schedule a consultation, call at (713) 443-6730 today.