Spousal and Child Support Reform Updates from Texas Legislature

Changes have come to spousal and child support that may impact you. Are you up to date?

Several changes were made to the Texas Family Code in early September that may be relevant to you and your family. Two new legislature updates in particular – HB 851 and HB 867 – include spousal and child support reform.

Law changes you weren’t aware of can be stressful, especially if you’re blind-sided or feel unprepared. If the updates we describe below leave you with concerns, remember to get in touch with us! These are the main two things to take note of:

Spousal Maintenance Statutes Have Changed 

While the previous laws in place only allowed spousal maintenance to be modified down, the new changes to the Texas Family Code now allow a follow-up to modify the maintenance cost back up. If the modification motion to your maintenance payments was made after September 1, it could impact you.

This cost may NOT be modified to an amount that exceeds the previous original maintenance sum, but would be applicable in a situation where, for example, the spouse paying maintenance saw a temporary decrease in income (e.g. a lost job or a job change with lower pay) that has since been restored or even surpassed. Be aware that the definition of increased income has also broadened under the new HB 458; while this once referred simply to things like salary and investments, it now also includes freelancing/contract compensation from networks like Uber and DoorDash (effective September 1).

It is also important to note that, if a petition is made to modify spousal support because of a substantial or material change, it may not be considered on that basis alone as admitting to a material and substantial change of circumstances regarding any other matter. Finally, the law changes clearly allow the court that ordered the maintenance in the first place to enforce it through a domestic relations order. Unlike the maintenance modifications, the new enforcement policy is applicable even if the original spousal maintenance was ordered before September 1, 2021.

Paying Through The State Disbursement Unit 

There have also been changes to the manner of payment.

If an obligee is paying both spousal AND child support, they are now required to pay it through the state disbursement unit, as ordered by the court.

If the obligee is in a low-income circumstance, however, with net monthly resources below $1,000, the court will apply different guidelines. This is a unique situation that your lawyer and the court will help you navigate.

What Does This Mean For You?

If these changes will have a direct impact on you, and you’re worrying about next steps, we encourage you to take a deep breath and start considering your options.

Capps Law is equipped to help you prepare for these changes, and to bring you every option available. Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs and concerns.

If you’re still in the stage of anticipating a divorce, but haven’t begun the process, be sure to go through a preparatory checklist and to speak with your lawyer sooner rather than later. Even if you’re just testing the waters and weighing your options, a smooth-as-possible divorce is better for you AND your child. An experienced lawyer like Kelly J. Capps will be able to advise you on the exact options available to you. To arrange a consultation with Kelly J. Capps of Capps Law Firm, PLLC, please call our Austin office at (512) 338-9800.

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of family law. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.