Reasons Why a Texas Divorce May Be Modified

by Teo Spengler Google

    Typically, states do not encourage modification of a divorce judgment. Divorcing spouses invest significant time -- and often, attorney fees -- in negotiating or litigating the terms of a divorce. However, a "final" judgment of divorce is not always final. In Texas, parties can move to modify a divorce by mutual agreement or by a showing of changed circumstances or fraud.

    Mutual Agreement

    Sometimes parties to a divorce view matters differently with the passage of time. If former spouses make a mutual decision to alter the terms of a divorce judgment, a Texas court may adopt a modified judgment incorporating the changes. Court agreement is more likely if the terms in question involve only the two parties rather than third parties, such as creditors.

    Changed Circumstances

    A party to a completed Texas divorce can request modification of the divorce order upon a showing of changed circumstances. Generally, courts modify ongoing obligations more readily than property division. For example, a Texas court may modify a spousal maintenance order upon a showing that either party's circumstances have changed, materially and substantially. Likewise, a court may modify the divorce order to terminate spousal maintenance if the spouse receiving maintenance lives permanently with a new partner.

    Child Custody

    Texas law allows modifications in a child custody order upon a showing of material and substantial change in a parent's circumstance if the modification is shown to be in the best interests of the child. Courts have ruled that remarriage, a disabling medical condition, criminal acts or change of residence are sufficient cause to consider modification.

    Child Support

    Texas law favors stability in a child's environment after a divorce. Because of this, a party can more easily modify a child support decree than a custody order since the outcome is less likely to disrupt the child's environment. The party asking for modification must show proof of a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either the child or a parent. Courts accept proof of a substantial increase or decrease in one parent's income or a substantial increase in a child's expenses.

    Fraud

    Proof of fraud is grounds for modifying a divorce in Texas, as in most states. A party seeking to set aside or modify a divorce decree on the grounds of fraud must establish all the traditional elements of fraud. These include proof the other party made a false representation he knew to be false, intended his spouse to rely on the statement and the spouse did, in fact, rely on the statement to her detriment.

    About the Author

    Living in France and northern California, Teo Spengler is an attorney, novelist and freelance writer with thousands of published articles in travel, gardening and law. Spengler holds a master's in creative writing from San Francisco State University and a Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley. She is currently a candidate for an MFA in fiction.