The Basic Rules of Modifying Child or Spousal Support in Texas

When a Texas judge makes you liable for paying child and/or spousal support after a divorce, the terms are usually based on your situation at the time of the divorce or legal separation.

But let’s face it, life happens, which means that your ability to support your ex and child may change at any time. And before you know it, the original support stipulations of the divorce agreement or family court order are no longer sustainable for you. In other words, you can no longer continue making payments.

You may have run into employment issues, your work hours may have been reduced, you may have remarried and have another child to provide for, or your child may have developed a special need that requires you to increase your financial support.

In cases like these, Texas family law allows to modify the child or spousal support order, but only if you can prove that your current circumstances require it.

How to Make Changes to Child Support

To modify a child support order, a parent must prove a substantial change in their ability to provide financial support and/or a change in the financial needs of the child. Typical examples include:

Becoming unemployed or getting a promotion and raise
Becoming disabled and being unable to work because of said disability
The child has long-term special needs that will continue after they turn 18

In instances where the initial support order was issued more than three years ago, the custodial parent can ask for an increase in child support to keep up with current Texas child support rules. For example, if you have custody of your children and your ex-husband makes over $7,000 a month, you can seek a support increase.

Under the three-year rule, parents no longer have to prove a substantial change to modify their child support order. And if the expected change is at least $100 or an increase over 20 percent, Texas family courts will usually order the new amount right away.

How to Make Changes to Spousal Support

Likewise, decreasing or terminating spousal support requires providing a significant change in the circumstances of the supporting or receiving spouse. Such changes include a significant reduction in your income or becoming disabled, which the court will consider as valid reasons for reducing or terminating support payments.

Under Texas law, spousal support ends at the date specified by the court, provided that no modification was requested before said date. Spousal support, however, ends when the receiving former spouse remarries. Payments can stop automatically without the need for an official court order. The same rule applies if your former spouse cohabitates and enters a romantic relationship with another person, but this will require presenting evidence in court and obtaining a release order.

Note that supporting spouses are still required to continue paying back support payments until they’ve met all obligations.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a divorce and need advice on spousal and child support matters call us today at 512.215.5225 to schedule a consultation with Daniella Lyttle.