Getting stuck with a big alimony payment following a divorce can put you in a financial bind. It doesn’t seem fair when circumstances change and your ex doesn’t really need your money.
If your ex got a new job, remarried, or received an inheritance, you may wonder if the alimony payment should be lowered.
Likewise, if you’re receiving alimony, and your ex gets a big raise, you may wonder if payments can be raised. You may wonder: How do I change the amount of alimony ordered in my divorce settlement in Houston?
At The Larson Law Office, we help clients navigate divorce proceedings and evaluate their circumstances when they ask, Can alimony be changed after a divorce? Here, we’ll explain the Texas spousal support law and tell you when you can change alimony payments.
When Can Texas Spouses Receive Alimony?
Texas spouses have no right to a set amount of alimony. Instead, judges decide spousal maintenance amounts on a case-by-case basis. Here are factors that may cause a judge to award you spousal maintenance.
Your spouse was convicted of a family violence offense within two years prior to the divorce or while the divorce was pending.
Lack of Income
You lack sufficient earning capacity and meet one of these conditions:
- Primary caregiver for a disabled child,
- Disabled, or
- Your marriage lasted at least ten years
You will have to prove your financial condition and inability to earn sufficient income by providing the court with evidence such as bank statements and job application attempts.
If your spouse sponsored your green card, they would have signed an Affidavit of Support. This means they promised the government that they would support you at 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
This support must continue until you become a citizen or earn 40 credits (approximately ten years) of work history. Divorce does not release your spouse from this promise.
How Does a Court Decide Alimony?
A court considers all financial and fairness factors when deciding alimony. Though the court doesn’t award a set amount of alimony, monthly payments are generally capped at the lesser of:
- $5,000 or
- 20% of the support payer’s monthly income.
The court will look at factors such as these when determining spousal support:
- Income of each spouse,
- Age of the children,
- Disabilities of the spouse or children,
- Duration of the marriage,
- Education of each spouse,
- Work history of each spouse, and
- Potential for the spouse to receive higher education or job training.
In many marriages, one spouse stays home or works part-time while caring for the children, while the other spouse pursues a career. The court considers the fairness of this arrangement, weighing the time one spouse invested in the family. The court may find that fairness requires supporting the stay-at-home spouse while they pursue an education or job training.
How Long Can You Receive Alimony Payments?
The time you receive alimony payments depends on the length of your marriage and other relevant factors. The court generally uses this formula to determine the length of spousal support:
- If spousal support is based on family violence or a marriage of 10 to 20 years, the spouse can receive support for up to five years;
- If the marriage lasted 20 to 30 years, the spouse can receive support for up to seven years; and
- If the marriage lasted more than 30 years, the spouse can receive support for up to ten years.
However, sometimes spousal support extends for longer periods. If the spouse is disabled or the caretaker of a disabled child, they may receive spousal support for an indefinite time period.
How Do I Change the Amount of Alimony Ordered in My Divorce Settlement in Houston?
A court will consider changing spousal maintenance payments if there is a “material and substantial change in circumstances.” For instance, if the spouse who receives support receives a promotion, their higher income may lead to a decreased need for alimony.
Some circumstances cause alimony payments to discontinue. For example, payments should stop in these circumstances:
- Either spouse dies,
- The spouse receiving alimony remarries, or
- The spouse receiving alimony lives with a romantic partner.
So, Can you modify alimony in Texas? Yes, but never stop alimony payments without a court order. If you believe circumstances have changed and you want to alter your alimony payment, contact an experienced attorney.
Contact a Houston Family Lawyer
Do you think you have a case for reduced or increased alimony? If so, you need a skilled Houston family attorney to convince the court.
At The Larson Law Office, we provide personalized, passionate representation to each client. We’ll evaluate your circumstances and advise you on whether pursuing an alimony change is worth it. Then, we’ll fight for your interests, working to secure fair spousal maintenance payments.
Contact us today for a consultation to get to know us and ask any questions.