Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce

Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce

Spousal Support in a Texas Divorce case can be awarded to a party for the duration of the divorce. The support intended to be temporary in duration so that the spouse who lacks the wherewithal to earn sufficient income to support themselves can begin to transition into an “earner”.

There is a duty in Texas to support your spouse during the marriage for the following:

  1. Food
  2. shelter, and
  3. medical care

While the parties are working on resolving their divorce the bills that a family is responsible for do not stop coming in the mail so part of a divorce is deciding who is going to pay what during the case.

Requirements to Receive Temporary Spousal Support

To qualify for temporary spousal support, a spouse must demonstrate the following:

They are in a legal marriage.
They cannot afford necessary expenses.
The other spouse has the financial means to pay the requested spousal support.
The principle here is that a spouse seeking spousal support will not require further support after the divorce. This is partly because, in Texas, a divorce takes at least sixty days, giving the spouse time to find a job that provides sustainable income.

From my experience in handling cases where clients temporarily received spousal support, I’ve observed that the end of financial support often motivates the search for sustainable employment.

However, if a person cannot find employment during the divorce, they should definitely seek support for a period after the divorce is finalized. The likelihood of receiving post-divorce spousal maintenance, however, is a completely different issue.

Requirements to Receive Post-Divorce Spousal Maintenance

1997 was the first year that the State of Texas had a law on the books that dealt with the issue of spousal support. The intent of the passage of this law was the minimize the need for spouses who are dependent on the income of their partner from becoming dependent on the State for support after their marriage ends.

Spousal Support, commonly known as ‘alimony,’ involves one spouse paying money to their former spouse for a set period after a divorce. A Judge may order this support, or the parties may agree to a specific duration for the payments.

Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce

To receive spousal support from a court, one must plead for it in their Petition or Answer. If there is a lack of significant property to divide between the parties, it increases the likelihood of a Judge awarding spousal support. The marriage’s duration also plays a crucial role, with a typical requirement of at least ten years of marriage before considering an award of spousal support.

Finally, a party that is requesting spousal support must show a court that they cannot earn a sufficient income to meet their minimal needs and that they are making a diligent effort to do so.

Other Scenarios That Can Result in an Award of Post-divorce Spousal Support

State law provides for a handful of ways that spousal support can be awarded on its own merits:

  1. Family Violence has been committed by the spouse of whom spousal support is being requested
  2. The requesting spouse has a disability that has left them incapacitated
  3. The lack of the ability by a requesting spouse to earn a sufficient income to sustain their minimal needs is due to their being responsible for the care of a child with a mental or physical disability

How Long can Spousal Support Last?

The general limits to spousal support awards are as follows:

  1. A marriage of at least 10 years but less than 20 years have a spousal support duration of no more than five years
  2. A marriage of at least 20 years but less than 30 years has a spousal support duration of no more than seven years
  3. A marriage of at least 30 years or more has a spousal support duration of no more than ten years

Spousal Support Awards: How Much Can Someone Be Ordered to Pay

What will a judge take into consideration when making an order for one spouse to pay spousal support to the other party? Here is a list:

  1. The financial resources of each spouse after the divorce (taking into consideration the party’s separate property interests as well)
  2. The ability of the spouse to pay their bills should he or she be ordered to pay spousal support
  3. A spouse’s history of contributions to the education and increased earning potential of the other spouse
  4. Possible wasting of community assets
  5. Contributions to the marital home in the form of upkeep and maintenance
  6. Family violence
  7. Misconduct (i.e. infidelity) during the marriage

Post-divorce Support Based on an Agreement

As previously stated, the parties can agree to spousal support as a means of settling a divorce case. The aforementioned requirements do not apply to an agreement between the parties to have support paid. The length and amount of support are also up to the agreement of the parties and not a Court.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, Pllc Knows How to Negotiate for Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce

If you need to request spousal maintenance the best resource you can have is an attorney who can not only deliver the results you expect and need. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are known throughout southeast Texas as effective and client-centric advocates. Please contact us today to learn more about spousal maintenance and any other family law questions you may have. Our consultations are free of charge and are offered six days per week.


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