This article will help you discover:
- The term for spousal support in Texas, and how someone can qualify for spousal support.
- What parts of a divorce degree you can modify, and which ones you cannot modify.
- Whether or not you must follow the exact guidelines of the court when it comes to visitation and shared custody.
Does Texas Recognize Spousal Support Or Alimony? How Long Is Spousal Support Paid?
Texas recognizes spousal support or alimony, although the technical term in Texas is spousal maintenance.
According to spousal support attorneys, alimony or support is more like a contract. For example, husband and wife attend mediation, the husband agrees to pay $2,000 a month for six months – that is contractual alimony.
However, if the judge orders it under Chapter 8 of the Texas family code, it is called spousal maintenance. We don’t use the word support even though laypeople understand that to mean the same thing.
In order to qualify for spousal maintenance, you have to have several grounds. First, you must be married for at least 10 years in Texas if you want to qualify for Chapter 8 spousal maintenance. You have to also prove to the court that, as a result of your marriage or your activity during the marriage, you are not able to provide for your reasonable minimal needs.
That is actually more complicated than it sounds, and courts may interpret this differently. Some courts will interpret that to mean the lifestyle you were used to during your marriage. They may agree that if you were going to the movies every weekend, you need to be able to do that now.
Other courts may interpret that to mean the very minimum you need to survive as a human being – your rent, your clothing, your food. Generally, spousal maintenance has a 10-year minimum.
If one spouse is disabled, then he or she qualifies for spousal maintenance. However, they must prove that they cannot provide their reasonable minimum needs, meaning they cannot take care of themselves.
Lastly, a spouse may also qualify if, as a result of the marriage, they took care of a disabled child. If, because that child has special needs and they couldn’t go to regular school, someone had to stay home to care for them. But like other cases, they have to prove that they cannot provide for their reasonable minimum needs.
Trying to understand whether or not you qualify for spousal maintenance can be confusing. Working with a knowledgeable spousal support attorney in Houston can help you get your questions about the divorce process answered.
Get help from our spousal support attorney!
How Can I Modify A Divorce Decree?
While you cannot modify the entire divorce decree, you can modify portions of the decree with help from our spousal support attorneys.
Generally, the only portion you can modify is the children’s portion. This could include visitation, child support, medical support, and the rights and duties of the parent.
Usually, you cannot modify property division because the judge would have already rendered it. You cannot change a property division and say, “Okay, the house the judge gave to the husband now belongs to the wife.” It is not doable.
However, custody, visitation, decision-making, and child support can be modified. Perhaps the income of one parent increased, or the needs of the children may have changed.
You can always go back to court to try to modify them. In order to do this, our spousal support attorney will file a petition on your behalf to modify a previously rendered order, and state grounds for the changes you are asking for. You just don’t modify because you change your mind, there has to be a material and substantial change
Let’s just say the children now want to live with dad, as opposed to mom. The children are over the age of 12 and they are the ones who express to the judge who they prefer to live with; that would be material and substantial ground for modification.
Alternatively, if one parent became a drug addict or an unfit parent, or they are incarcerated, those may be grounds to modify. But there has to be a ground – you just don’t do it because of time, you do it because there is material and substantial change.
You can learn more about this by getting in touch with our spousal support attorneys in Houston.
Can Parents Verbally Agree To A Different Possession Schedule Than What The Court Ordered?
Parents can agree to a different schedule for child custody than what the court ordered. It is presumed that the standard possession order is in the best interest of the child. For example, standard possession may be:
- The non-custodial parent is the parent who has weekend/summer visitation rights, pays child support, and is not the main custodian of the children. He or she gets the children:
- Every Thursday during regular school term
- Every First, Third, and Fifth Fridays, from 6:00 PM on Friday to 6:00 PM on Sunday
- Alternate Christmases and Thanksgivings
- Alternate spring breaks.
- The non-custodial parent gets 30 days in the summer to make up their time.
However, the parents can also do whatever they want. As a matter of fact, the order is going to say that parents are encouraged to do what they want.
If there is no alternative agreement, then the parents shall follow the court order. Parents always have the right to do whatever they think is in the best interest of the child, and then in the absence of an agreement they can follow their court orders.
For more information on Spousal Support Awards In A Texas Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (832) 345-1988 today.