Spousal maintenance is a payment of money from one spouse to another. This payment is intended to assist the receiving spouse in being able to meet his or her minimal, basic needs. A judge can order spousal maintenance on a temporary basis during the divorce, called “temporary spousal support”.
At the conclusion of a divorce, the judge can render a more permanent decision regarding these assistance payments. Let’s break down each type of payment to begin our discussion today.
Temporary Spousal Support
Prior to the conclusion of a divorce case, parties live under temporary orders. These temporary orders set you and your spouse up with rules to live by as far as your children, your property and other aspects of your lives are concerned during the course of your divorce. One of the subjects covered by temporary orders is spousal support.
Temporary payments of money from your spouse to you in order to help you support yourself is basically what temporary spousal support amounts to. The amount that is awarded is not just a number that the judge or you can pull out of a hat.
Both you and your spouse will present a statement to the judge prior to a temporary orders hearing that lays out what your household income and expenditures are in any given month. The shortfall is what you can expect to receive in temporary spousal support if your spouse has room in their budget in order for any to be paid.
Spousal Maintenance- What conditions must be met for payments to be ordered
In a trial for your divorce, the judge will again be asked to consider whether a “permanent” award of spousal support can be instituted.
These payments are called spousal maintenance and can continue even after the divorce is finalized.
The most common situations in which spousal maintenance is ordered are:
Family violence has been involved in the marriage. If you were the victim of family violence at the hands of your spouse then a judge can use that circumstance as a rationale to order spousal maintenance be paid.
The violence must have occurred within the past two years and a conviction of the crime (or probation) must be in place as well for the maintenance to be awarded.
Length of Marriage
The much more common circumstance that leads to spousal maintenance being awarded in a divorce trial is based on the length of the marriage before divorce. If you and your spouse have been married for at least ten years either of you are eligible to receive spousal maintenance upon the conclusion of your divorce.
The particular financial resources of both you and your spouse are to be considered prior to spousal maintenance being awarded, however. Both the income that you earn as well as what property you were awarded in the divorce will be factored into the decision-making process by your judge.
If you have a healthy income and were awarded a greater than fifty percent share of your community estate it is unlikely that you will be able to win a spousal maintenance claim on top of everything.
If you do plan on requesting spousal maintenance in your divorce then you should be prepared to show that at least one of the following circumstances is in play in your life:
- That you have a physical or mental disability that keeps you from earning sufficient income to care for your minimum, basic needs
- A child that you are going to be the primary conservator for has a physical or mental disability that requires continuous and substantial care. As a result of the need to care for this child, you are unable to earn a sufficient income to provide for your basic needs.
- Your ability to earn an income sufficient to provide for your minimum needs is lacking.
Absent one of these circumstances being in play for you it is unlikely that you will be able to be successful in a claim for spousal maintenance in your divorce.
What is the duration of spousal maintenance in a Texas divorce?
The length of time you can be awarded spousal maintenance depends on the length of the marriage prior to the divorce. If your marriage lasted somewhere between ten and twenty years then a judge may order spousal maintenance for a period of up to five years.
Marriages that have lasted between twenty and thirty years are eligible for up to seven years of spousal maintenance. Finally, if your marriage managed to last thirty or more years then you can be awarded up to ten years of spousal maintenance in your divorce.
I need to mention that those durational limits can be pre-empted in the event that you become disabled during the time period that you are receiving spousal maintenance, or if your child likewise becomes disabled and renders you unable to work. As long as the disability occurs a court has it in their discretion to award spousal maintenance.
How much spousal maintenance can be paid?
There is a limit set forth within the Texas Family Code for spousal maintenance. That limit is either $5,000 per month or twenty percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, which of them results in a smaller spousal maintenance obligation.
If you and your spouse happen to agree to a larger amount of maintenance be aware that if your spouse does not pay in the future that the most a court can enforce payment of is a sum in line with the requirements that I listed at the beginning of this paragraph. Any amount above 20% of their average gross monthly income or $5,000 is unenforceable.
You, Your spouse and custody of your child- tomorrow’s blog post subject
Please come back to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan’s website tomorrow to discuss the subject of child custody. In the meantime, if you have questions about spousal maintenance or any other subject in the field of family law please do not hesitate to contact our office today. A free of charge consultation is available with one of our attorneys six days a week.
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Other Articles you may be interested in regarding Houston Court Local Rules:
- 3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support
- Alimony or Spousal Support and a Disabled Spouse in Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas
- Texas Family Law Courts: Temporary Orders in a Divorce case
- Texas Family Law Courts: Beginning the Divorce Process
- Texas Family Law Courts: Divorce essentials
- Texas Family Law Courts: Mediation and Divorce Essentials
- Texas Family Law Courts: What to Expect
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 245TH Judicial District Local Rules
- 247TH Judicial District Local Rules
- 246TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 308TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas 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 Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston 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 Houston, Texas, Cypress, 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.