How to Change Court-Ordered Spousal Maintenance

In Texas, courts CAN order one party to pay another spousal maintenance, even if courts do not often choose this option.  If a party IS ordered to pay spousal maintenance, can they get it changed in the future?

Yes, but there has to be a ‘material and substantial change in circumstances’ in the factors that the Court relied on in determining that a spouse required spousal maintenance.  Tex. Fam. Code 8.057(c).

Keep in mind that while a party can get spousal maintenance changed (increased, decreased or eliminated), the process does take time.  The maintenance order cannot be changed without a hearing, and that hearing requires notice governed under TRCP 245 (final trial notices), so expect at least a 45 day wait from a pretrial hearing.

In other words, a party wanting to change spousal maintenance needs to jump on this quickly, and stay on top of it.  File the motion to modify as soon as the conditions have ‘materially and substantially changed,’ get the other party served, and then set up the pretrial hearing to get a final trial date.  If discovery needs to be done, then there are going to be additional delays.  But until that hearing takes place, there will not be any change in the court-ordered spousal maintenance.

About CJ.Harding
Chris believes one of the most important aspects of family law is seeing the 'big picture.' This means understanding the law, the facts of your case and the range of possible outcomes. Only after knowing each of those can an attorney convey the risks and potential results and guide you to make the right decision for your case, your life and your family. He understands every person and every case is unique. Chris will advocate for the very best possible result in your case. He has worked on a variety of family law cases, including tracing of assets, property division of estates worth more than one million dollars, international and interstate child custody issues, enforcement actions as well as pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Chris continues to be a student of the Law and helps to educate others by maintaining the "Hot Topics" section of the Firm web site, which features current issues in Texas family law. Topics have included how a bankruptcy can affect child support and the differences between alimony and court ordered spousal maintenance. Chris joined the firm after graduating cum laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. During his time at SMU, Chris competed in numerous mock and moot competitions and placed nationally. Chris is a native Texan, growing up in the Houston area and completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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