In the realm of divorce, various legal aspects come into play, and one important consideration is spousal maintenance. Also known as alimony or spousal support, this financial arrangement ensures that one spouse receives financial assistance from the other after divorce. If you’re in Texas, understanding the basics of spousal maintenance is crucial for both parties involved.
Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance
In Texas, not every divorce case involves spousal maintenance. To be eligible for spousal maintenance, certain conditions must be met:
- Duration of Marriage: The marriage must have lasted for at least ten years, unless the requesting spouse can demonstrate that the other spouse was convicted of family violence during the marriage or the spouse seeking maintenance has an incapacitating physical or mental disability.
- Inability to Support Oneself: The spouse requesting maintenance must show that they do not have sufficient property or income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs, considering factors like employment skills, education, and health.
- Contributions to the Marriage: The requesting spouse must show that they contributed to the marriage by taking care of the household, raising children, or otherwise supporting the other spouse’s career or education.
- No Conviction of Family Violence: The spouse requesting maintenance cannot have been convicted of family violence against the other spouse or the child of either spouse.
Calculation and Duration
If a court determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate, the amount and duration of the payments are determined based on specific guidelines set by Texas law:
- Maximum Amount: The total maintenance awarded cannot exceed $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever is lower.
- Duration: The duration of spousal maintenance varies based on the length of the marriage. For marriages lasting between 10 and 20 years, the maintenance period can be up to five years. For marriages lasting 20 to 30 years, it can be up to seven years, and for marriages over 30 years, the maintenance period can be up to 10 years.
Termination of Spousal Maintenance: Several circumstances can lead to the termination of spousal maintenance in Texas:
- Remarriage: If the spouse receiving maintenance remarries, the payments are terminated.
- Death: The death of either spouse terminates the obligation to pay spousal maintenance.
- Cohabitation: If the spouse receiving maintenance starts living with another person in a romantic relationship similar to marriage, the paying spouse can seek to terminate or modify the maintenance.
Modification and Court Orders
In some cases, circumstances change after the initial spousal maintenance order is issued. If there is a substantial change in circumstances that makes the original order unfair or impractical, either spouse can request a modification of the order.
It’s important to note that spousal maintenance is just one facet of divorce in Texas. As each divorce case is unique, understanding your rights, responsibilities, and options is vital. Seeking guidance from our knowledgeable McKinney, TX family lawyer here at J Lowe Law can provide you with a clear understanding of how spousal maintenance applies to your specific situation. Whether you’re the spouse requesting maintenance or the one who may be required to pay, being well-informed ensures that the divorce process is as smooth and equitable as possible.