Along with emotional turmoil, a divorce brings financial stress. As you embark on your divorce, you may wonder about how you will afford to live after it’s finalized. If so, you are not alone. Many people wonder about the current state of alimony and whether they will be able to get some help getting back on their feet post-divorce. To help answer some of your questions, today, we will discuss the guidelines for spousal support in Texas.
If you are considering a divorce and want to know about spousal maintenance, you should contact an experienced divorce attorney. The Larson Law Office PLLC is here to help you understand spousal support in a divorce.
Temporary Spousal Maintenance During Divorce Proceedings
While a divorce is pending, either spouse can make a motion for temporary spousal maintenance. Under the Texas temporary spousal support guidelines, the spouse requesting support must show that they have a significant financial need and cannot meet their monthly expenses. But temporary spousal support only lasts for the duration of the pending divorce matter. Once the divorce is finalized, the temporary support ends. However, the final divorce may include an order for continuing spousal maintenance.
Spousal Maintenance in a Final Divorce Order
The guidelines for spousal support in Texas are relatively strict. In fact, under Texas law, there is a presumption that spouses do not need support. To request maintenance, a spouse must demonstrate that they will not be able to meet their financial needs after the marital property is distributed and the divorce is finalized.
How to Qualify for Support
Under the Texas spousal support guidelines, a spouse must prove that they will not have sufficient resources to meet their financial needs when the divorce concludes. Plus, they’ll also need to prove one of the following:
- The payor spouse was convicted of a domestic crime against the requesting spouse or a child within two years of the divorce filing or during the divorce;
- The spouse requesting maintenance cannot support themselves due to a disability;
- The marriage lasted for at least 10 years, and the requesting spouse cannot earn enough to support themselves; or
- The requesting spouse must care for an infant or disabled child of the marriage.
Thus, for example, if you have been married for only two years and need supplemental income but don’t fit any other criteria, a court is not able to award spousal maintenance.
Factors a Court Considers for a Maintenance Award
When the spouse meets the initial qualifications, a court will consider several additional factors, including:
- The financial independence of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s education level, employment background, earning ability, and the time it would take to get financially independent with training;
- Marriage length;
- Age of the spouses;
- Whether either spouse did something to diminish the value of marital property;
- Whether one spouse contributed to the education or career of the other spouse;
- Homemaker contributions;
- Any family violence; and
- Any marital misconduct.
These factors help the court decide on the amount and duration of a potential support order.
Texas law also limits the duration of spousal maintenance. If the spouse is disabled or caring for an infant or disabled child, the court can order maintenance until the condition no longer exists.
Otherwise, maintenance is limited in duration to:
- Five years for marriages that lasted less than 10 years with a domestic violence conviction,
- Five years for marriages lasting from 10 to 20 years,
- Seven years for marriages lasting more than 20 and less than 30 years, and
- Ten years for marriages of longer than 30 years.
Support ends when the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a domestic partner or when either spouse dies.
Maintenance orders are also limited to either 20% of the payor spouse’s gross monthly income or $5,000 per month, whichever is less. Thus, even a high-earning spouse will pay no more than $5,000 per month.
Changing the Maintenance Award
A court may reduce maintenance payments if one spouse’s circumstances significantly and materially change after the court entered the original maintenance order. The court will examine the above factors to determine if the maintenance award should change.
Spousal Support Agreement
Nothing in the spousal support guidelines in Texas limits the couple’s ability to negotiate a separate spousal support agreement. Speak with a qualified divorce lawyer to discuss whether a divorce agreement including spousal support is possible in your case.
Contact The Larson Law Office for Questions About Spousal Support
The Larson Law Office PLLC understands that divorce is complicated. Because of this, we provide services as individualized as each of our clients. Contact our office to meet with our skilled and knowledgeable legal team for help with spousal support.