If you are one of the many divorced Texans paying alimony, you likely have two questions. First, when does it end? And, second, can I pay less? To answer your first question, simply look at your divorce decree. There should be some language indicating when the alimony ends. As to the second question, the answer is maybe. Texas does allow for alimony modification and even termination, depending on the circumstances.
Alimony in our state is determined much like many others. However, we do have an alimony maximum that is either $5,000 per month or 20% of your average gross monthly income, whichever is lower.
The duration also depends on why your spouse was awarded alimony originally. If alimony was awarded because of family violence, it can last up to 5 years. If your ex-spouse is not disabled, not caring for a disabled child and your marriage lasted for 10 years, 5 years is also the maximum. This goes up to 7 years if the marriage lasted 20 years, and to 10 years for a 30-year marriage. Though, if there is a disability involved, alimony could be indefinite or until the disability or need for disability care ends.
If there is a material and substantial change in your financial circumstances or the financial circumstances of your ex-spouse, an alimony modification may be appropriate. This can be a decrease or increase in income or expenses by either spouse for whatever reason. A modification could be warranted if your ex-spouse remarries are is cohabitating with a new spouse.
A modification could also be justified if there is a health status change in either spouse or in your child. Tax changes and education or employment opportunities that affect either spouse can also be used to ask for a modification.
What the court looks to
The family law judge looks at the spouses’ current situation and compares it to the situation at the time of the divorce and the alimony order. They then determine whether there is a material change in circumstances that warrants a modification. That modification can be to decrease, shorten, terminate or extend or increase that original alimony order.