Spousal Maintenance In Texas
Am I Entitled To Spousal Support In My Divorce?
Spousal maintenance – also known as spousal support or alimony – is the outcome of a judge’s ruling in a divorce that requires one spouse to give money to the other, typically on a monthly basis. The idea is that a standard of living was established during the marriage that neither party should have to fully sacrifice after a divorce.
In layman’s terms, if you made the entire income during the marriage and your spouse stayed at home to raise your children, you can expect to give a portion of your income to your spouse that would allow him or her to continue that lifestyle.
Whether you are requesting maintenance or alimony is being requested of you, the entire subject can cause stress and further division between you and your spouse. You may be wondering if you’ll be able to continue living in the way you’ve become accustomed to or if your children will be provided for appropriately.
Don’t take chances with such an important part of your proceedings. Contact me instead, Galveston County divorce attorney Karenko. I have more than two decades’ worth of experience with family law that I can put to use for you by building a solid, reasonable case.
Determining Eligibility For Texas Spousal Maintenance
In Texas state, divorce courts do not have the authority to force spousal maintenance agreements into action. Instead, one party – most notably the obligee – must request it; if the court would normally have no grounds to approve alimony payments but both parties decide to create an agreement anyway, the permission may be granted within the court’s discretion.
Requesting spousal support requires eligibility first and foremost in Texas – not just any divorced spouse can demand alimony. The spouse requesting alimony must first lack “sufficient property” upon the divorce’s finalization, which is to say that they must not have won the family home, business or any other asset that should reasonably support them.
If sufficient property was not won, at least one of the two following scenarios must have occurred to grant eligibility:
- Domestic violence: The obligee must have been the victim of domestic violence carried out by the obligor either during the marriage or while the divorce was being processed. The domestic violence incidents must have led to a criminal conviction or another form of penalty.
- Insufficiency: The obligee must be unable to earn sufficient income on their own due to a physical or mental incapacitation, responsibilities as the primary parental guardian of a child who has a physical or mental incapacitation, or having been married to the obligor for at least 10 years and generally relied on them for financial support.
If none of the aforementioned scenarios are not met, Texas state divorce courts will not permit spousal support, unless both spouses agree to a pre-made plan. If one of the scenarios is met, the next step is calculating how much spousal support should be granted.
How Does The Court Calculate Spousal Support Payments?
If the court has determined there is a need for spousal maintenance payments to one party and that the other can indeed provide it without being financially crippled, they will have to calculate an exact amount.
When determining the amount, the court will consider several factors, such as:
- Ability to provide: The court will consider each spouse’s financial resources to determine their ability to provide for the recipient’s “minimum reasonable needs.”
- Education and employment skills: The diplomas, degrees, certifications and employment experience of each spouse will play into their ability to pay support.
- Duration of the marriage: The longer a marriage lasted, the more likely it is that the alimony will be in a greater amount and exist for an extended duration, assuming it is not established as permanent.
- Contributions to the marriage: If a spouse asking for alimony is found to contribute very little to the marriage – such as a husband who didn’t have a job and didn’t even participate actively in raising the children – he or she may be granted very little alimony, if any at all.
- Health: If a spouse is young, healthy and emotionally stable, they may be granted less alimony than expected, as it is assumed that the individual could potentially care for themselves, if need be.
- History of violence: “Any history or pattern of family violence” plays into the determination of spousal maintenance.
There is a cap on how much money can be awarded each month through spousal support in Texas. No spouse shall receive more than $5,000 a month or 20% of the average monthly incomes of the obligor, whichever is less.
When Do Spousal Support/Alimony Payments End?
As alimonies may be significantly different from case to case when they are established, their endings may be just as varied.
If an alimony is not permanent, it will most likely end when a predetermined date is reached, usually:
- Five years after the divorce if married less than 10 years and found eligible under Section 8.051(1)
- Five years after the divorce if married for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years
- Seven years after divorce if married for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years
- Ten years after divorce if married for 30 years or more
Spousal maintenance may also be ended once the recipient spouse is able to sufficiently support themselves, except in cases of disability, custody of an infant or young child in the marriage, or “another compelling impediment to earning sufficient income.”
There are other ways alimony payments can end that are not as common, such as:
- Remarriage: If either one of the former spouses remarries, alimony payments will typically come to an end, as it is assumed the new spouse will pick up the financial responsibilities.
- Lack of effort: Alimony payments may be altogether ceased if a judge rules that the one receiving the support has made no reasonable attempt to become self-sufficient.
- Death: Should one of you pass away, alimony payments may end. This is usually only true if no children were involved with the divorce.
Can A Galveston Family Law Attorney Help Me With My Alimony?
The subject of spousal support is complex, to say the least. Both sides may be seeking some sort of financial restitution for the divorce, and neither one may be seeing things clearly enough to come to an agreeable decision.
I understand that during times like these, people need honest, unbiased help more than ever, and I am willing and able to provide just that. If you are going through a divorce and have any number of questions, including those regarding alimony requests, please contact me at The Karenko Law Firm PLLC.