The question of when spousal support, spousal maintenance, or alimony is due to a person in Texas is one where we need to think about all the circumstances in a person's life and where to give a complete answer. Suppose you are a person who has been obligated to pay your ex-spouse spousal maintenance after your divorce, or you are currently receiving contractual alimony or spousal maintenance. In that case, you will want to pay attention to the information in this blog post. This is especially true when Your living situation may have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bottom line is that the obligation to pay or receive spousal support or contractual alimony is not permanent. In Texas, judges are not going to bend over backward to award spousal maintenance in a divorce. Contractual alimony exists when you and your ex-spouse agree in mediation to have some amount of money be exchanged between them after the divorce. There is no obligation to pay spousal maintenance or contractual alimony if your ex-spouse more to pass away. Likewise, if you had passed away, you're a state would not be obligated to pay spousal maintenance either.
Remarriage of your ex-spouse, who has the right to receive spousal maintenance or contractual alimony, would make her no longer eligible to receive these payments. The thought behind this is that because your ex-spouse now has another outlet to receive income That they no longer have to rely in part on your costs of spousal maintenance or contractual alimony.
To what extent does cohabitation impact your obligation to pay contractual alimony or spousal maintenance?
However, the most likely scenario that could put into question your need to continue to pay contractual alimony or spousal maintenance has to do with your ex-spouse beginning to live with another person after your divorce. Let's assume that your ex-wife began dating someone a few months after your divorce ended. She had been living on her own for the first few months of the relationship, but now you have come to find out that she has moved in with her boyfriend. While you don't have much concern Over her relationship status, you are very concerned about whether or not you would need to continue to pay spousal maintenance given this change in her living situation.
The law in Texas is that if a court finds that you are permanently residing with another person with whom you were engaged in an intimate relationship, you would no longer be eligible to receive spouse omens or contractual alimony. From my experience, the tricky part of the whole scenario is Proving that a person is living full time with a significant other. As I'm sure you could imagine, it can be challenging to pin down A person's living situation Absent concrete evidence. We can speculate about where you're living and with whom you're living, but they're usually needs to be more evidence than speculation to confirm living arrangements.
Can adjustments be made to the level of spousal maintenance or contractual alimony that you were obligated to pay?
The amount of maintenance that you are expected to pay to your ex-spouse can be reduced or eliminated. However, it would help if you kept in mind that reducing or removing a maintenance obligation cannot occur without your first filing a lawsuit in the family court that issued the original order. You can file motions to terminate or modify special maintenance and then Present evidence to a judge showing that your obligation has ceased due to the cohabitation of your ex-spouse with a person they are engaged in a dating relationship with.
As with any modification case in Texas, you would need to present a material and substantial change in either yourself or your ex-spouse's circumstances to justify the modification. If you are the spouse who is obligated to pay spousal maintenance, you can take solace that your ex-spouse cannot ask a judge to increase the amount I was parcel maintenance that they are receiving. By filing a modification or eliminating a spousal maintenance request with the court, your obligation cannot go Up; it can only go down.
Filing a motion to modify spousal maintenance would be like filing any other family lawsuit in Texas. You would need to 1st file the suit then has your ex-spouse served with notice of the case itself as well as a hearing date to present your evidence to a judge. Remember that right now, during the pandemic; it has become increasingly challenging to get hearing dates due to the closure of most of the family law courts in our area. So, the realistic option Would be for you and your ex-spouse to work together to negotiate through these issues and see if you can conclude independently without going before a judge.
Examining the circumstances that may lead to a change in inhabitation during the COVID-19 pandemic
There may be many reasons why your ex-spouse may choose to change the living situation during this pandemic. For one, she may have lost her job or had a decrease in her income to the point where she can no longer afford to pay rent at her previous residence. If she chooses to move in with a significant other, that may be a defense that she would use in a hearing on this matter in front of a judge. Specifically, she could argue that she is only moved in temporarily with this other person due to extreme financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
Another circumstance that I could see leading to the movement of an ex-spouse into the residence of a significant other is their prior residents being unsafe due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus. I envision a scenario where your ex-spouse lived in an apartment complex or a different residential situation where many people came down with the virus, and your ex-spouse decided to move before they became ill. Again, I could see this being argued if it temporary and not permanent move in with the person That would last only as long as the rest of their health did as far as the ability to become infected by the virus.
Finally, we have the age-old scenario above your ex-spouse and their significant other wanting to take their relationship to the next level and move in with one another as a result. This is a much more standard arrangement that we would see happen at any time and not just during a pandemic. I think that this is a situation That it is more difficult to mount a good defense against arguing that the person is not permanently living with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
What ability do you have to negotiate for spousal maintenance if you are going through a divorce right now?
This is probably a relevant question for anyone who is currently going through the divorce process. If you are going through a divorce and need temporary help, then you can speak to your attorney about that and begin a conversation with your spouse about whether or not quick spousal support can be paid. Just like in the scenarios above where we were discussing people who had lost income or lost their jobs entirely due to the coronavirus, you may need the support to help you get your feet on the ground in a stable position after your divorce has been filed.
This is especially true if you have been a stay-at-home parent or stay-at-home spouse for an extended period. In many marriage relationships, one spouse takes on the responsibility of the financial provider while the other spouse takes on the responsibility of caring for the home and children. This arrangement tends to work out fine when times are good, but it can leave the stay-at-home spouse much more vulnerable in the face of a divorce. These circumstances can more readily lead to the need for temporary spousal support even during the relatively short time that makes up a divorce.
Payments of spousal maintenance during a divorce argued to be fair do not small part because one spouse may have given up employment or educational opportunities to be available to care for a home or family. For example, if you stayed at home to take care of the house and family while your husband went to law school to become an attorney, then your sacrifices in the professional world directly allowed your spouse to attain Levels of success in their professional life sphere. Often, a spouse who becomes a stay-at-home parent does so after working for periods to help put their spouse through school.
What should you do if you come to find out that your ex-spouse has begun to cohabitate during the pandemic?
The answer to this question Maybe what many of you have come to this blog to figure out. Ultimately, I can provide you with much information on this subject, but what you need to know is how you can and should proceed if you come to find out that your ex-spouse is living with another person—on a full-time basis during this pandemic. We have already discussed multiple scenarios that are not far-fetched at all, which would lead to your ex-spouse needing or wanting to move in with their significant other. Now we need to discuss what that means for you and a potential family law case that seeks to eliminate the obligation to pay spousal maintenance or contractual alimony.
To move forward and give yourself as good of a chance as any to have your obligation To pay spousal maintenance eliminated, you should have evidence proving your case. Hearsay and rumors about the living situation of your ex-spouse are probably insufficient to have your obligation removed. You should be prepared with witness statements or other concrete evidence to show that your ex-spouse has moved in with another person. If you are struggling to come up with this kind of evidence, I would suggest that you look at social media.
Whether people believe this or not, social media is more than just a place to connect With friends and family. Increasingly, social media has begun to play a role in Court cases as posts and messages on social media take on forms of evidence in these cases. While many of us feel comfortable posting information about ourselves in photographs on social media, the reality is that this information can be used against us depending on What information is made available and what these photographs may show.
Depending on how frequently your ex-spouse uses social media, he may take up information or photographs that corroborate your position that they have permanently moved in with a significant other during the pandemic. This means realistically for you that you do not have to play private detective or Snoop around to find any evidence like this. Instead, the best evidence available to you may be at your fingertips, where you can access it from the safety of your own home.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in our office, over the phone, and via video. If you have questions about your circumstances and want to learn more about the services we provide to our clients and their families, please get in touch with us today.