Harrell, Stoebner & Russell, P.C.
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Is a spousal support order modifiable?

If, during your marriage, you have been dependent on your spouse financially, getting a divorce and having to figure out how to provide for yourself can be a scary thing. Thankfully, Texas laws allow the awarding of spousal support under the right circumstances. This is a great benefit for those who need financial assistance as they transition from married to single life.

Spousal support, also called alimony or spousal maintenance, is something you can request as part of your divorce settlement. If awarded, it is usually only paid out for a certain period of time. The spousal support order notes the duration of payments and the amount ordered. What happens, though, if you have a change in circumstances and need either more support or an extension on the duration schedule? Can you modify an alimony order?

First, the basics: Qualifying factors

Not every divorce case awards spousal support. Before the court decides if you qualify, it will need to look at a few factors to determine your eligibility. These factors include:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The standard of living you enjoyed during your marriage
  • The ages of both you and your spouse
  • Your post-divorce economic need

If awarded, support amount and the duration of payments can either be granted temporarily or long-term. Every case is different.

When to seek a modification

Depending on the wording of a spousal support order, it may not be modifiable. However, you won't know until you ask. If it turns out yours is modifiable and you have experienced a change in circumstances, making your current order insufficient for your needs, seeking an adjustment may prove worthwhile.

An example of a qualifying change in circumstances may be: Financial support awarded to a former stay-at-home parent to help him or her as he or she goes to school or receives employment training, so that one can seek a decent paying job. According to the support order, the duration of the alimony payments will only last until one completes his or her training or schooling. However, after all that work, the recipient is unable to find employment that fully provides for his or her financial needs.

In this example, the support recipient may submit a request in court to extend the duration of payments. It may also be possible to seek a modification to the support amount.

Need more information?

With the economic hardships that are affecting numerous Texas residents, there may be quite a few spousal support recipients who qualify for alimony modifications. However, post-decree adjustments are not always easy to achieve. If you are in need and believe that you may qualify for an order modification, an experienced family law attorney can review your case and answer any questions you may have. If deemed appropriate, your legal counsel can assist you in petitioning the court for the desired changes.

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