By Michael Ausiello
Updated January 26, 2010 at 11:41 PM EST

I bet I know what the hot topic will be at the next Walker dinner party: Where the hell is everyone?!

On the heels of news that Rob Lowe is leaving Brothers & Sisters in May, sources confirm to me exclusively that his TV spouse, Calista Flockhart, will be working a reduced schedule next season.

An ABC spokesperson declined to comment except to say that Flockhart will remain a series regular. In other words — and this is just me speculating — she’ll most likely appear in at least 13 of next season’s 22 episodes.

Meanwhile, a Brothers & Sisters insider confirms that Flockhart’s lighter workload was a contributing factor in Lowe’s decision to flee. The West Wing alum already felt his role on the show had become diminished. The prospect of his TV spouse appearing in fewer episodes would’ve only increased his sense of marginalization.

It’s all starting to make sense!

Reaction? Relieved Flockhart isn’t making a permanent exit like Lowe? And does all this bode well for MIA sib Balthazar Getty, who has made no secret of his desire to return to the show full-time? Share your thoughts in the comments!