Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as spousal support, is an important topic of which many potential new clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC frequently ask questions about. With that in mind our office wanted to share some details and experiences we have encountered in our representation of clients.
In our first post on the subject, we discussed contractual spousal maintenance as well as some basic ins and outs regarding the subject. With that in mind, what follows is a run-down of court ordered spousal support as well as advice for handling either a request for maintenance or answering a request from your spouse.
Court Ordered Spousal Maintenance: Essential bits of knowledge
Judges can order spousal maintenance in situations where it is both warranted and the receiving spouse qualifies. This spousal maintenance award is of course involuntary meaning that if a judge orders you to pay the spousal maintenance you must do so regardless of whether or not you agree with the decision.
Many of you reading this blog post may have concerns on how much money you may be expected to pay and how long into the future the maintenance will need to be paid.
One bit of advice that I can provide is to keep in mind that just because a court may order you to pay spousal maintenance it does not mean that the amount of money that is ordered to be paid will be large or that the payments will last years into the future.
In fact, you can read on and learn some background history of the spousal maintenance laws in Texas as well as details on what courts will typically order in terms of duration and amount of support.
Who is eligible for court ordered spousal maintenance?
For a party to be considered eligible by a Texas court for spousal maintenance, that spouse must prove to a judge that once the assets and debts are divided up that there he or she will not have enough property to meet their minimum, basic needs.
This does not mean living the life you’ve grown accustomed to or anything close to that. This means being able to have a roof over your head and food in the pantry. So already you can see that as the law is written a judge will not have an easy time ordering spousal maintenance because in the vast majority of divorces both spouses will leave the marriage with a sufficient share of property so as to meet their basic needs once the divorce is finalized.
Additionally, a spouse must be able to show that at least one of the following factors is at play:
- the spouse requesting the support is disabled
- a child of the marriage has a disability that prevents the spouse from going out and working a job to provide income for themselves
- the non-requesting spouse has committed family violence
- the marriage must have lasted at least ten years in duration
If you are considering asking for spousal maintenance in your divorce a piece of advice would be to go ahead and make an effort to earn an income prior to filing for divorce.
The reason being is that a court will not be able to award you spousal maintenance if you have not attempted to earn an income or make preparations to gain some training that can help you to find a job.
Once you’re eligible for spousal maintenance how much can a judge order you to be paid?
The two key questions for a judge to ask him or herself insofar as spousal maintenance is concerned is how much will be awarded on a monthly basis and for how long will the order run.
A good rule of thumb for you to consider is the difference between your monthly expenses and monthly income is roughly the maximum that a judge will award in a spousal maintenance order. Again, this is to meet minimum needs, not to allow you to live an extravagant lifestyle.
A judge will also consider both you and your spouse’s ability to earn an income after the divorce as well as a party’s ability to pay their own bills after the divorce if they are also mandated to pay spousal support. The age, education and work experience of the requesting spouse is also considered as well as their ability to attain proper training and education to enhance their ability to find employment.
So, a stay at home mom who has a college degree and a prior work history as an executive or other profession would have a tougher time to be awarded spousal support by a court than another stay at home mom with only a high school degree and no work experience at all.
Last, a court would take a look at less commonly occurring factors such as the possible wasting of community assets as a reason to award spousal support. If your spouse has a gambling addiction where he or she took money out of community bank accounts for use in feeding their gambling habit that is a great reason for a judge to be more willing to award spousal support.
Likewise, if community income was utilized by your spouse towards an extramarital affair, both the extramarital affair and the wasting of community income can be utilized as reasons for a judge to award you spousal maintenance.
Part Three of The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC’s series on Spousal Maintenance coming shortly
Hopefully the first two blog posts on this subject have been interesting to you all. Tomorrow, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will conclude our series of posts on spousal maintenance by discussing more information on how much and for how long spousal maintenance may be ordered.
If you have any questions related to spousal support or any other family law matter please feel free to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A consultation with a licensed family law attorney can be scheduled for free six days a week.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Spousal Maintenance in Texas: Maximum payable amounts and length of commitments to pay
- 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?
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