When a couple divorces, spousal maintenance–also called spousal support or alimony–may very well be part of the divorce settlement.
If you are seeking the dissolution of your marriage, here are a few things that you need to know about spousal maintenance in Texas.
When Spousal Maintenance Is Considered
The first thing that you should know is how the court decides whether or not a spouse in a marriage is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, and therefore whether or not spousal maintenance may be a part of your divorce settlement.
According to Texas Family Code Section 8.051, the court may order maintenance when the maintenance-seeking spouse lacks the sufficient property or assets to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs and one of the following other criteria is satisfied:
- The parties have been married for at least 10 years;
- The maintenance-seeking spouse has a physical or mental disability;
- The maintenance-seeking spouse cannot support themselves because of the duty to care for a child with physical or mental disabilities; or
- The spouse from whom maintenance is being sought has committed an act of family violence against the spouse seeking maintenance.
Maintenance is common in cases where one spouse earns significantly more than the other, and even more common in cases where one spouse served as a stay-at-home-parent or took care of the home so that the other could work and earn an income.
How the Court Decides How Much Spousal Maintenance Is Reasonable
A court may hear a case for spousal maintenance any time that a party seeking maintenance does not have the means to provide for their needs, but how much maintenance that a court may grant to a maintenance-seeking spouse varies on a case-by-case basis, and it dictated by the following factors (Section 8.052):
- Each spouse’s ability to earn an income and provide for themselves;
- The employment and education of each spouse;
- The contributions of each spouse to the marriage and the earning-capacities of the other;
- Marital misconduct; and
- Any history of violence.
How Long Does Maintenance Last?
The duration of a spousal maintenance award is based on the length of the marriage. Parties who were in marriages that lasted for a longer length of time will be eligible for a longer-lasting spousal maintenance award; marriages that lasted for fewer than 10 years are only eligible for up to five years of post-divorce support.
Can a Spousal Maintenance Award Be Changed?
Yes – spousal maintenance awards can be modified at a later date if both parties are in agreement about the modification or one party can prove that a significant change in circumstances has occurred that warrants the modification.
Call Our Spousal Support Attorneys Today
One complicated element of a divorce is figuring out spousal maintenance. Texas divorce lawyers at the office of Simer & Tetens can guide you through the process, help you to understand the law, and advocate for your best interests.
If you have questions about spousal maintenance, contact our family law team today for a consultation.