The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are concluding their three part series on spousal maintenance by writing about the limits of support payments and some advice on proceeding in a courtroom when it comes to spousal support.
Whether you are requesting the support or are potentially on the hook to pay spousal maintenance to your ex spouse there are issues to be aware of prior to going to court.
Is there a ceiling on how much spousal support you can be ordered to pay?
The answer to this question is, yes. The Texas Legislature has set the cap on spousal support payments as $5,000 a month or no more than twenty percent of the paying spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever amount is lower. A court does not want to put anyone in a situation where they are having to choose between paying their light bill, electricity, child support or spousal support in lieu of another necessity.
An accurate inventory and appraisement that is filed with the court and served upon the opposing party is a great way to make sure your financial status is well known to all parties involved in your court case. That way, you can attempt to nip in the bud any unrealistic requests for support before they even occur.
Time limits for spousal maintenance payments
In other words- how long can you be expected to either receive or pay spousal maintenance? In short, the expectation from a court is, absent other circumstances being in place, you should only be on the hook to pay support or be entitled to receive support for a relatively short amount of time. Basically a court will be looking to buy you enough time to earn a sufficient living to provide for your basic needs.
Other circumstances that may result in a longer period of time for you to receive spousal maintenance payments include your having a disability that prevents you from working either part time or full time, your need to be a caretaker for a child who requires around the clock care or any other reason that a court believes will impede upon your ability to provide for your minimum reasonable needs.
From my personal experience I have seen a judge award spousal maintenance for 10 years in a situation where the parties had been married for nearly forty years. That is the longest a court is able to award spousal support for and it was granted in a case where the opposing party was an executive for an energy company here in Houston and our client was the stay at home mother for many years and had no education beyond high school.
Should you just agree with your spouse to pay some amount of spousal maintenance?
After reading the past few blog posts on the subject of spousal maintenance, the thought may have crossed your mind to just agree to some amount of spousal support with your spouse rather than to risk going to talk to a judge on the subject and risk having to pay more money for a longer period of time. Is this wise to do, though?
Obviously, this sort of important financial decision is an important one to get right and the middle of a contested divorce is not necessarily a time period that you will be at your mental peak in terms of concentration and decision making capabilities.
It is difficult to consider paying support for your ex spouse above and beyond what you are already paying in child su
pport (if you have children) and what is already going to your spouse in the property settlement. What’s more- what if your spouse didn’t work at all during your marriage? Even if they were at home caring for the children or otherwise providing an important service, do they deserve to be paid spousal maintenance for that?
With these considerations in mind, the risk (as I discussed in the initial blog post in this series on spousal maintenance) lays more with the spouse who is set to receive the spousal support than it is with the spouse who is to pay the spousal maintenance. If your spouse agrees to pay you spousal maintenance your right to enforce a violation of that agreement is not always going to be upheld by a judge given that you must also meet the fairly rigid criteria the State of Texas lays out for spousal support recipients.
Failure to meet these requirements over and above the agreement entered into with your spouse may put you in an indefensible position in terms of your ability to collect future, agreed upon spousal maintenance payments.
Have complete information available to you before requesting spousal maintenance
In order to increase your bargaining position in terms of requesting spousal maintenance it is essential to be aware of exactly where the family finances are in terms of assets, liabilities and bills. It is not uncommon for the spouse who is requesting spousal maintenance to also be the spouse who does not know anything about the household finances.
Make sure your attorney gets a copy of your spouse’s inventory and appraisement ahead of either your temporary orders hearing or final trial. This way you will know what your spouse does as far as what the household is capable of paying and also what the obligations of the household are. This other benefit to knowing what the current financial status of your family is that you are able to ask for amounts for child support and division of the community estate that are actually in line with reality, not just your assumptions of what you believe to be the case.
Family Law attorneys for Southeast Texas families: The Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Thank you for the opportunity to share this information with you regarding spousal maintenance in Texas divorces. If you have any questions for our attorneys please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys stand ready to answer your questions in a comfortable, stress free environment. Consultations are always free and are available six days per week.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Should I be worried?
- Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Court Ordered Maintenance
- Know How to Determine Whether Alimony will be Owed and for How Long, When Preparing for Your Texas Divorce
- 3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support
- Alimony or Spousal Support and a Disabled Spouse in Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas
- Spousal Support, Spousal Maintenance, and Alimony in Spring and Houston Texas and when is it available?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.