Spousal maintenance is the technical term here in Texas for what is traditionally called alimony. Not to be confused with child support, which is meant to pay a portion (or all of) a child’s living expenses, spousal maintenance is designed to support the spouse. Spousal support amounts can vary based on the income a spouse earns and other factors. It also need not last indefinitely unless the spouse cannot support themselves due to some serious documented and present proven disability.
In the era of dual-income families, it can be transitional support during the divorce or even after the divorce is complete. It may allow the spouse to return to school to update their job skills and better support themselves, or it may conclude after the children are older, and the ex can dedicate more time to their career. It is usually needs-based, and the spouse receiving support isn’t “entitled” to maintain the same lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage.
Grounds for changes
Divorce is a time of great change, and spousal maintenance can help ease the transition, but the future is hard to predict. The agreement will outline support and when (or if) it is terminated. But there may be a substantial change in circumstances since the divorce where it makes sense to seek a post-divorce modification to lower or end the support. Common grounds include:
- Remarriage: Those receiving maintenance should notify their ex that they plan to remarry. The paying party can then file a motion to terminate post-divorce spousal maintenance.
- Cohabitating: It is okay for a family member to move in to lend a hand or contribute to bills while there, but exes who enter continuous conjugal cohabitation may also qualify to have spousal support terminated.
- Death: There may be specific arrangements, but the death of either ex-spouse terminates the support obligation.
The spouse is due the total agreed upon amount until the termination, which means the other spouse is still obligated to pay any accrued amount of arrears that may have existed prior to the termination of the financial obligation.
Modifications may be necessary
There are foreseeable changes like the ones listed above, but there may be other reasons to adjust or terminate the financial support by filing a post-divorce suit for modification. Many find it helpful to discuss their situation with an experienced, Board-Certified Texas family law expert attorney who handles all family law matters. They can weigh the details and legal options and help a client determine whether a change is necessary. Then they can argue on behalf of their client’s interests.