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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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How can a spousal support order be modified?

Though spousal maintenance in Texas is intended to level the playing field after a couple divorces, it is sometimes necessary to amend the order after it has been issued. In such cases, it can be useful to have an understanding of the procedure to do so and what factors a court will look for when deciding upon the petition.

In order to modify a spousal support order, the petitioner must appeal for modification in the same court in which the order was originally made. After the motion has been made, there must be a response by the first Monday after 20 days have gone by, at which time a hearing will be scheduled. If the petitioner can demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order was made, the court may elect to grant the modification.

A petitioner can show substantial change by presenting documented evidence of how the income of the party in question has increased or decreased since the original order. If the party that provides spousal support is no longer able to generate sufficient income because of a physical or mental disability, the court may not require them to continue doing so. Determinations of modification often hinge upon questions of the ability of both former spouses to generate income independently with respect to their education level, employment history and other such matters.

Depending on the individual circumstances of the case, spousal orders may cause a financial burden to either the payer or the payee. If someone wishes to amend an order to alleviate such a burden, it may be helpful to discuss the situation with an attorney who has experience in family law matters. The attorney might be able to assemble evidence regarding the petitioner's need and advocate in favor of modification during any scheduled hearings.

Source: Texas Family Code, "Sec. 8.057: Modification Of Maintenance Order", accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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