Recently, we have discussed some of the basics regarding child support awards and spousal maintenance awards. As we saw, both of these obligations are based on complex systems built into the fabric of Texas family law. What we didn’t discuss in any detail, however, is the fact that both of these obligations can be modified after an initial determination. Depending on the circumstances at hand, a Texas judge can decide to change or, in the case of spousal maintenance, even eliminate an obligation altogether.
In this post, we will discuss some of the factors which go into the decision-making process underlying these modifications.
Modifying a Texas Child Support Award
As mentioned, child support awards are determined according to a well-established system in Texas. But, after an award has been created, this doesn’t mean that this obligation will remain in place indefinitely. Whenever there is a significant change in either parent’s life, or the child’s life, this change may be sufficient to amend the award.
If a parent believes that new changes warrant a modification of an existing support obligation, that parent can petition the court directly for a review. That parent can also file for review by the Attorney General’s Office through the Child Support Review Process (CSRP). Whether a given change is sufficient to lead to a modification depends on the specifics of the case; but, in general, there are certain factors which have been known to carry considerable weight. For instance, if there has been a change in custody, such that one parent has suddenly become the primary custodial parent, this may warrant modification. Other significant changes are things like a job loss, international relocation, change in necessary expenses (i.e. greater medical costs for the child), and others as well.
Modifying (or Eliminating) a Spousal Maintenance Award
Just like child support awards, alimony or spousal maintenance awards can also be modified after they’ve initially been created. And, just like child support, modification of spousal maintenance all depends on the specifics of the case. If the court considers the change to be sufficient, then an award can be modified. Until an award has been formally modified, however, Texans should know that the payor must continue to make the payments as normally required, per Texas Family Code Ann. § 8.057.
Some changes which have been adequate to alter an existing award are remarriage by the recipient spouse, job loss or decline in income, improved employability of the recipient spouse, new income by the recipient spouse, and others.
We should reiterate that a payor spouse should never discontinue making maintenance payments until an award has been formally modified by the court. The reason is because failing to make payments on an existing order is a very serious offense. Heavy penalties can follow from failing to pay an existing obligation, such as bank account liens and even jail time.
Contact The Ramage Law Group for Additional Resources
If you believe that changes in your situation warrant a modification of either your child support obligation or spousal maintenance obligation, give us a call. There is plenty more to know about this matter. We need to examine the particulars of your situation in order to plot a course. Call The Ramage Law Group today at 469-208-6980.