Temporary Spousal Support
Spousal Support in Texas is awarded on a temporary basis while a divorce suit is pending. It is meant to be temporary spousal support in order to provide a financially dependent spouse with income during the divorce while the parties are working on a resolution to their financial situation.
Temporary spousal support is based on the common law duty to support one’s spouse during the marriage, by providing “necessaries” such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care. As a result, an award of temporary spousal support can be taken into account when the court divides the spouses’ community property, since the spouse who is providing such spousal support is entitled to reimbursement from their community estate.
To be entitled to receive temporary spousal support, the requesting spouse must demonstrate that:
- the parties have a valid marriage,
- he or she is unable to pay for necessary expenses, and
- the other spouse can afford to pay the amount of spousal support sought
If the spouse receivingtemporary spousal support remains unable to pay for necessary expenses at the time of the final hearing/trial, he or she should consider requesting spousal maintenance for a period of time after the divorce is granted.
Post-Divorce Spousal Maintenance
Post-Divorce Spousal Maintenance is a relatively new thing in Texas. Until 1997 Texas did not have any law governing spousal support. When the Texas Legislature passed the law the intent was to keep a spouse off of welfare and from becoming a ward of the state.
The Texas legislature revised this law in September of 2011 and changed some of the eligibility rules for court ordered spousal maintenance.
In Texas, spousal maintenance is money that one spouse pays to the ex-spouse for a period of time after the divorce. Post-divorce spousal maintenance is something a family law judge can order a spouse to pay involuntarily depending on if the other spouse meets certain eligibility factors under the Family Code.
Keeping in mind the original intent of the legislature in many cases judges are reluctant to grant an award of spousal maintenance after a divorce. Before a judge will grant an award of post-divorce spousal maintenance the requesting party will:
- Have to plead for it (ask for it in their pleading filed with the court
- Show that they lack property to meet their minimum reasonable needs (In other words there is a lot of marital property to be divided such as money in bank accounts, retirement, etc. they are less likely to need spousal support).
- In most cases the party asking for post-divorce spousal support will be required to have to have been married to you for at least 10 years or longer
- The requesting party in most case needs to demonstrate they are unable to earn sufficient income to meet their minimal needs
- The requesting party must demonstrate they have made a diligent effort to earn sufficient income or develop skills to do so
Other reason a spouse can ask for post-divorce spousal support include:
- the other spouse has committed family violence; or
- the requesting spouse has an incapacitating disability; or
- a child of the marriage (of any age) has a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse who cares for and supervises the child from earning sufficient income
Duration of Spousal Support
If an ex-spouse is awarded maintenance for suffering from an incapacitating disability under the family code, the court can orderspousal maintenance to be paid for as long as the spouse continues to satisfy the eligibility requirements under the applicable provisions.
How much Spousal Maintenance
To calculate how much to award in spousal maintenance the court will first determine what an ex-spouse’s reasonable needs are.
Things that a Judge must consider when deciding how much to award in post-divorce spousal maintenance include:
- the financial resources of each spouse after divorce (including separate property);
- What effect paying child support or spousal maintenance will have on both spouses’ ability to pay their bills;
- one spouse’s contribution to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power;
- the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the requesting spouse;
- each spouse’s education and employment skills and how long it would take for the spouse asking for maintenance to get education or training;
- whether either spouse inappropriately spent community funds or disposed of community property during marriage
- homemaker contributions;
- marital misconduct of either spouse; and
- family violence.
The court cannot award more than either $5,000 or 20% of the paying party’s average gross monthly income whichever is less.
Another form of post-divorce spousal maintenance in Texas is “contractual maintenance” or “Contractual Alimony”. This is voluntary and paid according to an agreement between the spouses as to how much it will be and how long it will last. In this form of post-divorce spousal maintenance, a spouse does not have to prove any legal eligibility requirements.
This sometimes used as a way to divide up marital assets or for Tax purposes.
There is no guarantee for contractual maintenance but is something that both parties would have to agree upon.
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- How the laws in Texas changed regarding spousal maintenance and how it affects your divorce