Spousal Maintenance: What it is and what that can mean to your Texas divorce, Part Two

In the first part of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan’s series of blog posts on Spousal Maintenance in Texas divorces, we discussed court ordered spousal maintenance and the situations that warrant it being awarded. I highly recommend that you go back and read that post in case you have not yet done so. There are many misconceptions and half truths surrounding spousal support in Texas and in order to truly know where you stand prior to a divorce reviewing this information can be incredibly helpful.

Today’s blog post has to do with Contractual spousal maintenance and will be the final post in our series on this subject. As opposed to court ordered spousal maintenance, contractual spousal maintenance is voluntary in nature and has its own finer points that ought to be parsed out in some detail.

Contractual Spousal Maintenance essentials for the divorcing spouse

As I stated a moment ago, the key difference between contractual spousal maintenance and court ordered spousal maintenance is that contractual spousal maintenance is voluntary rather than involuntary. This means that you and your spouse would have to agree for one of you to pay support and the other to receive the support for a designated period. Often times this sort of agreement can come about during mediation or an informal settlement discussion between your attorney and your spouse’s.

There is nothing in the Texas Family Code or other source of statutory law in Texas that requires contractual spousal maintenance to run for a certain length of time or to be for a certain dollar amount.

We saw in yesterday’s blog post that court ordered spousal maintenance has limits in dollars and duration. Contractual spousal maintenance does not work like that.

Steady income is important for previously nonworking spouses

Just because you intend to receive spousal maintenance for a period of time after your divorce does not mean that you do not wish to return to work or plan on “easing” your way back into the workforce. On the contrary, contractual spousal support can be helpful in that you can help pay for the costs of supplemental training or school expenses in the event that you are in need of training to land a job.

Likewise, if it is your agreed on plan that you would remain in the family home and take on the mortgage indebtedness a stream of income would most likely be necessary for you to qualify for a refinance of the mortgage. Contractual spousal maintenance can provide a lender the sort of consistent income that may be able to assist you in this regard for refinance purposes.

Information on the enforcement of contractual spousal maintenance

While most any family lawattorney will tell you that it is advisable to settle your divorce case out of court, there are downsides in the area of your ability to potentially enforce an agreement on spousal maintenance.

In the event that you need to go back to court in order to have a judge hold your spouse to their responsibility under an order to pay you maintenance, the judge may only do so to the extent that he or she would be able to had your spousal maintenance been bound by the parameters set forth in the Texas Family Code in terms of duration and dollars.

Let me clarify that last paragraph using an example from a past client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. A woman hired us after her ex husband had told her ahead of time that he was going through rough financial times and would no longer be able to pay her the $2000 a month in spousal support that had been included in their Final Decree of Divorce.

The spousal maintenance was to be paid until our former client passed away. Clearly the duration of this award was beyond what the Texas Family Code allowed, as awards of longer than ten years are only allowable in the event that the spouse his/herself is disabled or a child is who requires the care of the spouse who receives the support.

Our client was not happy to learn that a judge could not enforce the portion of the order that dealt with the payments until her death. Eventually we settled with her ex-husband in mediation on a lump sum figure for the support to be paid.

If no durational requirements, how can contractual spousal maintenance be terminated

The responsibility to pay spousal maintenance that is contractual comes to end upon the death of either spouse or the remarriage or co-habitation with a romantic partner by the spouse who receives the spousal maintenance.

Negotiate spousal maintenance after everything else

In many cases, if you and your spouse’s community estate is substantial you can walk away from your divorce with liquid assets that would remove the need for you to collect spousal maintenance as well. Combine this with the possibility of receiving child support as well and your concerns over providing for your own well being may be overblown to a certain extent.

With that said, if you do need to negotiate on spousal maintenance please do so after all of the other financial matters have been sorted out. I can recall a prior case of mine from Montgomery County where an opposing party severely “over-asked” in the area of spousal maintenance during mediation. Once we arrived at a temporary orders hearing our client laid out very well what the family expenditures were as well as the family income.

With little “wiggle room” in the numbers, the opposing party appeared greedy or at the very least unrealistic and lost credibility with the judge in my opinion. That is a bad impression to make on a court and can be avoided with proper study of your family’s financial “numbers”.

Representing southeast Texas families with pride: The Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Thank you for joining us for our discussion of spousal maintenance in Texas. In order to learn more about the Law Office of Bryan Fagan please contact us today to schedule a free of charge consultation. Our office represents clients across southeast Texas and we would be honored to do the same for you and your family.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Spousal Maintenance: What it is and what that can mean to your Texas divorce
  2. Modification of Spousal Maintenance in Texas
  3. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Truths and Untruths
  4. Spousal Maintenance for a Disabled Spouse in Texas
  5. Spousal Maintenance in Texas: Maximum payable amounts and length of commitments to pay
  6. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Should I be worried?
  7. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Court Ordered Maintenance
  8. Know How to Determine Whether Alimony will be Owed and for How Long, When Preparing for Your Texas Divorce
  9. 3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support
  10. Alimony or Spousal Support and a Disabled Spouse in Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas
  11. Spousal Support, Spousal Maintenance, and Alimony in Spring and Houston Texas and when is it available?Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce
  12. Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers

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 one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are 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, 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.

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