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Specialty tag(s): Alimony & Spousal Support Maintenance

How Does Spousal Maintenance Work in the State of Texas?

Chandler Rice Winslow | March 8, 2022

In Texas, post-divorce spousal maintenance is rehabilitative in nature and is intended to provide support to a spouse whose ability to earn income is lacking, or has deteriorated over time, and whose assets are insufficient to provide support.

Will I have to support myself?

In a divorce, the court may order one party to pay spousal maintenance to the other party, only if the requesting party will lack sufficient property upon divorce to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs and:

  • the paying spouse committed family violence against the requesting spouse or their child within two years before the date of filing the divorce suit or during the pendency of the case; or
  • the requesting spouse is unable to earn income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs due to a physical or mental disability,
  • the parties have been married for a period of 10 years or longer and the requesting spouse is unable to earn income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs, or
  • the requesting spouse is the custodian of the parties’ child (of any age) who requires substantial care and personal supervision due to a physical or mental disability which inhibits the requesting spouse from earning income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.

The court will want to see that the party requesting spousal maintenance has tried diligently to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs or has developed the necessary skills to provide for his or her needs during the pendency of the parties’ separation and divorce case.

How long do I have and how do I stretch my funds until I am in a better position to work?

If a spouse is eligible and receives court-ordered spousal maintenance, the amount of monthly spousal maintenance is statutorily capped at the lessor of $5,000.00 or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income.

Unless the receiving spouse is disabled and therefore unable to maintain employment, or is caring for the parties’ disabled child and therefor unable to maintain employment, the length of time a spouse is eligible to receive monthly spousal support payments depends on the length of the parties’ marriage:

  • Marriages of less than 10 years when the paying spouse has committed family violence and marriages lasting at least 10 years but not more than 20 years are capped at 5 years of spousal support payments.
  • Marriages ofat least 20 years but not more than 30 years are capped at 7 years of spousal support payments.
  • Marriage of 30 years or more are capped at 10 years of spousal support payments.

The court will determine the shortest reasonable period that allows for the requesting party to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs, unless the receiving spouse is unable to meet these needs due to disability or caring for a disabled child.

Often times, one spouse may have relied on the other spouse to handle financial affairs or may be unaware of how to properly manage investments or other assets he or she is awarded in the divorce. The attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley have a strong referral network of trusted financial advisors who can explain and provide guidance concerning finance and investment management in order to help secure a bright financial future for our clients post-divorce.

What happens if I took off to care for my children? How do I get back into the workforce?

When determining the amount and duration of spousal support payments, the court takes into consideration a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the requesting spouse to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the requesting spouse;
  • acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of marital property;
  • the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  • the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
  • marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment; and
  • any history or pattern of family violence.

The court may allow a reasonable time for the stay-at-home spouse to obtain education and/or training to re-enter the workforce, but it is important to begin acquiring these skills or applying to jobs even when the divorce is still pending. Because the award of spousal maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney who can provide individual feedback and determine the best way to present your claims for spousal maintenance to the court.

Learn More

Chandler Rice Winslow has been named D Magazine Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2022. She has experience in business and real estate law in addition to representing a wide variety of clients in family law, including working and non-working mothers. Chandler understands how a business operates and works closely with business owners on identifying separate and community property. She is also sought after for drafting pre-and post-nuptial agreements and solving highly contested custody issues.

To learn more about your options for spousal maintenance in Texas, please contact Chandler Winslow at 214-373-7676

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