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Family systems and dynamics can be incredibly varied. However, it’s not too unusual for one spouse to be the main breadwinner while the other provides care for the couple’s children, maintains the marital home and is available for any complications or emergencies that arise.

If that marriage ends in divorce, it can mean radically changed financial circumstances, especially for the spouse who has remained in the home for a number of years. This is why Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code allows for alimony, which also may be called spousal maintenance payments. Basically, this law acknowledges that while one spouse went out to earn a living and kept their marketable skills up-to-date, the other provided a no-less valuable service by remaining at home. The spouse who stayed home doesn’t necessarily have the job-ready skills that the employed spouse does, so they probably can’t go out to start earning a living immediately after the divorce.

This means that one spouse may request alimony from the other. Most of these agreements are settled through lengthy negotiations and approved by the family courts. They are binding, legal contracts that the paying party must adhere to or risk suffering serious consequences. However, this doesn’t mean that these contracts can’t be changed.

Experienced Texas family law attorneys like Janice Eggleston of the Eggleston Law Firm frequently remind clients that the paying spouse cannot simply stop paying or start paying a different amount. Instead, it’s necessary to request a modification from the court. The requesting spouse must have a good reason for requesting the modification, especially since most modifications are a request to pay a smaller amount. Judges in family court will only accept a few reasons for a modification. The loss of a job or a significant reduction in salary are two reasons that most judges will accept. Spouses who are experiencing serious health problems also may qualify for a reduction in the amount of alimony they pay.

Modification or termination may also be sought when a former spouse who is receiving alimony begins cohabitating with someone else. Alimony will not be modified or terminated simply because a spouse takes on a roommate. Instead, there must be some evidence that the former spouse is involved in a new romantic relationship and that the new pair are sharing a residence. Gathering the evidence and submitted the request involves the assistance of a family law attorney.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Texas law allows for the immediate termination of alimony payments upon the re-marriage of the receiving spouse. In other words, once someone who is receiving support payments from a former spouse gets married again, their alimony payments are automatically ended. However, this termination doesn’t apply to any back payments that the paying spouse owes. Under the law, these payments must be made regardless of the receiving spouse’s marital status.

Contact Janice Eggleston of the Eggleston Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. Her experience with modification requests makes her the ideal advocate for your individual case. She has helped many clients modify their payments for a variety of reasons, and she’s ready to help you today!

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