Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Spousal Maintenance in Texas

In Texas, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, requires one spouse to provide financial support to the other after a divorce. This support ensures that the receiving spouse maintains a living standard similar to that during the marriage. Texas law bases the determination of spousal maintenance on specific criteria, such as the marriage duration, each spouse’s financial resources, and their ability to support themselves.

Spousal Maintenance: A Brief Overview

In Texas divorces, financial issues usually take the spotlight. The main concern for many involves financial distribution: determining who receives what and how to limit the other party’s share. While some couples aim for an equal division, the emotional nature of divorce often makes such practicality rare.

In this context, the role of an experienced family law attorney is crucial. They do more than offer legal expertise; they provide balanced, reasoned advice when emotions might cloud judgment and strain the ability to cooperate with a spouse.

Interestingly, most Texas divorces don’t end up in court. The driving force behind this trend is the collaboration between attorneys and clients, who set aside animosities to settle cases based on individual facts and circumstances.

One particularly contentious issue is spousal maintenance. Post-divorce, the thought of either paying your ex or depending on them for financial support can be daunting. However, under Texas law, you should actively consider spousal maintenance before initiating a divorce.

Today, let’s delve into a recent divorce case from the Houston area that reached one of our state appellate courts. You can find the case, Willis v. Willis, online using the citation No. 14-15-00913-CV.

It dealt with the award of spousal maintenance based on a spouse’s ability to present evidence that showed what their minimum basic needs were.

Spousal Maintenance: Background on the Willis Family

In 1995, the parties to this case married and together had three children, two of whom are special needs children. The mother, dealing with medical issues requiring advanced care, also receives supplemental income from the Social Security Administration.

The mother initiated a divorce, leading the case to trial. During the preparation phase, the mother and father were separated, with the children residing with the mother. Eventually, both parents testified in court, and following the trial, the court issued a Final Decree of Divorce.

The father took issue with the trial results and appealed the judge’s verdict. The father argued that the court made an error in how it divided the community estate in ordering the father to pay the mother $972 in spousal maintenance each month, and finally that because mother only asked for a lump sum money judgment against the father or the spousal maintenance, she should not be able to collect both.

Since this blog is about spousal maintenance, let’s leave behind the property division question and focus on the court’s analysis of the spousal maintenance award.

Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Spousal Maintenance on Appeal- How did the Court of Appeals rule?

The Court of Appeals examined the father’s claim that the trial court erred in awarding spousal maintenance to the mother. He argued that she failed to prove an inability to meet her basic needs with the property division from the divorce.

In Texas, courts award spousal maintenance under specific conditions, such as a marriage lasting over ten years and the recipient’s inability to support themselves through employment or property received in the divorce.

The mother testified that, partly due to living rent-free at her mother’s house and having monthly expenses of around $1,500, she could meet her and her children’s basic needs. Her income, including child support and social security, totaled about $2,500, and she also received a supplement of $60,000 from the marital estate, payable at $1,000 per month.

Despite financial tightness, the Court of Appeals sided with the father, concluding that the mother could meet her basic needs without spousal maintenance, leading to the reversal of the initial maintenance award.

What can you take away from this case?

This relatively recent case from the fourteenth court of appeals in Houston sets a standard you can likely expect in your southeast Texas divorce case.

To secure spousal maintenance in Texas, as this mother discovered, you need substantial evidence. If you aim for spousal maintenance, working with your attorney early to demonstrate your monthly expenses and explain why you can’t meet these needs independently is crucial.

Questions about spousal maintenance? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Spousal Maintenance in Texas

If you have any questions about spousal maintenance, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. You can schedule a free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys six days a week, where your questions can be answered. We actively represent clients throughout southeast Texas and would be honored to discuss representing you and your family in the same way.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it’s essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, 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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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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