Alimony, or spousal support, is a common part of many divorce agreements in Houston, TX and Sugar Land, TX. If you are faced with alimony in Texas, you may be wondering how and when those payments can be terminated. This question often comes up when a spouse moves away, but the answer can depend on the conditions of the move.
Can You Stop Paying Alimony in Texas if a Spouse Moves Away?
Simply put, you cannot stop paying spousal support just because your spouse has moved away. The same rules that make your divorce valid in all fifty states also apply to any judgments for alimony or child support that were a part of that ruling, even if the state of their new residence does not have a spousal support provision locally.
Moving Across State Lines Doesn’t Automatically Terminate Alimony in Texas
When you received your final divorce agreement, there should have been clear terms for ending your alimony payments to your spouse. Sometimes, this is a set term in years, while other cases stipulate that you will continue paying until your spouse remarries or cohabitates with someone else.
You will find, however, that there are no stipulations for moving any particular distance away from you and your spouse is not required to stay local to receive the money. They are only required to provide a forwarding address so that you can continue sending payments as agreed.
Moving In With Someone Else in Houston, TX Might Terminate Alimony
Cohabiting or remarriage are the most common causes for terminating alimony in Texas. If you can show that your former spouse’s new living arrangement is both conjugal and permanent, you may have grounds to have your spousal support payments terminated immediately regardless of how long they have been cohabiting or how far away they move. Common forms of evidence accepted are:
- Joint leases or mortgages
- Receiving mail at the same address
- Presence of personal items belonging to your former spouse’s new partner
However, you will need additional proof that the arrangement is not just a shared housing arrangement like roommates, so be sure you get statements from other people, too. Ideally, both parties will consult an attorney before attempting a major move to know how it will impact their divorce agreement. This is doubly true if there are children involved because a judge will need to reassess child support and visitation agreements along with the proposed alimony.
What to Do After Your Former Spouse Moves Away
Even if moving away does not terminate your spousal support arrangement immediately, there are steps you can take to modify or reduce your spousal support payments after your spouse moves away.
Depending on the terms of the original arrangement, seeking a modification of your agreement is something that a divorce attorney can help you do. Until the agreement is renegotiated, though, you must continue making your payments in good faith and upholding your end of the agreement.
Get a Forwarding Address as Soon as Possible
If your ex has decided to move away, regardless of their reasons, they need to provide you with a new address to send payments to. If they don’t, you can continue sending the payments to their last known address and notify your attorney that payments are being returned or not being deposited.
As long as you can prove that you’ve done your part to stay on top of things, you will have a strong defense if your ex comes back and claims that you missed payments.
Consider Renegotiating Your Arrangement
Depending on the terms of your divorce and the length of time since you separated, you may have grounds to ask for a modification of the terms of your agreement. For instance, if your ex moved to a state with a lower cost of living, you may be able to argue that the amount of your maintenance payments is no longer appropriate. In addition, if your spouse moves to take a job that puts them in a better financial position than you, your support may no longer be required.
Ask Your Attorney About Settling Out of Court
One unique aspect of Texas divorce law is that the courts usually try to avoid getting involved in spousal support arrangements. In fact, it is far better for you to work out an agreement directly with your ex long before going to court. If you believe your ex might be willing to come to the table and reach a new agreement, it is worth asking your attorney to help mediate the process to reduce your future obligations and allow you to move on with your life in a timely manner.
Gather Evidence If You Know They’re Cohabiting
In the instance that you know your ex has moved to live with a new partner, you have grounds to terminate your spousal payments entirely. However, the courts are unlikely to get involved unless they have to, so it is generally best to hire an attorney who can notify your ex that you intend to seek a new agreement based upon their change in living situation. Do not be surprised if your ex refutes this or attempts to obfuscate the truth in an attempt to keep from losing their support.
If you believe you have an uphill battle getting your ex to renegotiate, it is always a good idea to have an attorney working on your behalf. They will guide you through the process of seeking relief from your payments once you have obtained the proper evidence. They can help you gather witness statements from family, friends, or anyone else who knows your ex and is familiar with their new life. These situations are even more complicated if your ex has moved far away and you cannot easily obtain evidence to make your case.
When the Supporting Spouse Moves Away
In some cases, spouses who are responsible for paying support attempt to move away to a state that will not enforce the payment agreement. In addition, some people believe that quitting their job and moving away will make it more difficult for you to prove that they have any income at all, and they might get away with not paying. If your former spouse is trying to skip out on paying alimony in Texas by moving, you should contact an attorney immediately. Do not wait until you have lost contact to try and seek a judgment for non-payment.
As mentioned above, your divorce agreement remains valid no matter where your ex moves, but tracking them down and enforcing payment becomes increasingly difficult when they leave the area and change jobs. Before you can pursue your spouse, you will need to have your attorney draft a letter of demand and start keeping track of when payments stopped. In addition, you may be asked to provide evidence from social media or family members and friends familiar with the situation who know where your ex is working after the move.
Alimony cases are handled on a case-by-case basis, and the state of Texas tries to avoid making judgments for them most of the time. However, if you have a spousal support agreement in place and your ex is moving away, you need to know your rights. Whether you are the payee or the recipient of support, you have obligations laid out in your divorce agreement that could permanently affect future payments. To learn more about what happens when one party moves away, contact Skillern Firm and speak with an expert divorce attorney today.