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Seeking modification of alimony upon retirement

Although the amount of spousal support that will be ordered in a Texas divorce case is determined during the course of divorce proceedings, there are times when this figure may be adjusted. Texas courts evaluate a number of factors when calculating and adjusting spousal support payments.

Texas courts realize that the amount of spousal support that is ordered may need to change when income changes. Some sources of income do not remain the same indefinitely. One prime example of this situation is when the spouse who is paying support retires. The payer's income may decrease to a substantial degree. If the divorce decree factors in this possibility and accounts for it, there may be no need for a modification.

However, the spouse who is paying alimony has the burden to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that would impede his or her ability to pay if he or she wants the amount of support adjusted downward or eliminated. The court may also evaluate whether the change in monetary circumstances would make it difficult for the paying spouse to continue to pay at that rate. The court can look at the circumstances that existed at the time of the divorce, compared with the current circumstances. Texas family courts may consider the totality of the circumstances involved in the case, including the age and health of each party, the reason for retiring, whether retirement was forced or voluntary, the timing of the retirement, the ability of the recipient to be self-supporting after such a change and whether the timing of retirement was anticipated at the time of the divorce.

Divorced individuals who are under a support obligation and who are contemplating retirement may want to discuss their legal obligations with a family law attorney. Legal counsel can point out the issues that may be relevant to the court in ruling on a motion to modify the existing order.

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