Demystifying Spousal Maintenance in Your Texas Divorce

Spousal maintenance, often referred to as alimony, is a financial support arrangement where one spouse provides financial assistance to the other following a divorce. Typically, these payments are temporary unless agreed otherwise. While dividing community property is a known aspect of divorce, the obligation to pay spousal support can be particularly challenging for some individuals. This raises the question of what constitutes reasonable spousal maintenance, a critical consideration in divorce proceedings.

On the flip side, being the spouse who relies on spousal maintenance for post-divorce financial stability can be equally exasperating when faced with opposition from your former partner.

Why is spousal maintenance requested in divorce cases?

If you find yourself in a situation where you require spousal maintenance, you may wonder about the factors that could lead a court to grant such a request. Spousal maintenance serves as a financial support supplement designed to help you during the transition to full-time employment, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce while raising children.

Factors such as differences in education levels, with your spouse holding a doctoral degree that you supported financially, and now facing significant income disparities, can contribute to your eligibility for spousal maintenance in your Texas divorce.

Exploring the two types of spousal maintenance awarded in Texas

Texas law permits two distinct types of spousal maintenance:

  1. contractual alimony and
  2. the court-ordered spousal maintenance.

Let’s break down each one so that we are all clear on the differences.

Court-ordered spousal maintenance

In a divorce trial, a judge does not surprisingly order Court-ordered spousal maintenance. If you and your spouse cannot agree on spousal maintenance, among other disagreements, you can present the issue to a judge for a decision.

Courts are generally reluctant to award spousal maintenance, based on the idea that non-disabled individuals should work for an income, emphasizing self-sufficiency. The Texas Family Code limits the amount and duration of spousal maintenance that a judge can award.

The notion that marriage to a high-earning spouse ensures lifelong financial security is not applicable in Texas. After dividing the community estate, a court assesses the financial circumstances of both spouses to determine whether spousal maintenance still justifies it. To be eligible, you must meet one of the following four criteria:

1. Your marriage has lasted at least ten years, and you’ve made efforts to gain the skills and education needed for self-sufficiency during the divorce.
2. Your spouse has committed family violence.
3. You have a disabling condition preventing you from working.
4. You have a child with a disability requiring your full-time care, making it impossible to support yourself and the child without additional assistance.

It’s crucial to dispel the misconception that not working increases your chances of receiving spousal maintenance. While unemployment may align with some of the factors mentioned above, it may not be in your best interest to remain jobless during your divorce.

Deliberately quitting a job or neglecting to seek employment solely to appear more eligible for spousal maintenance is not advisable. It’s essential to demonstrate that you are actively trying to find work or acquire the necessary skills.

Is there a maximum limit for spousal maintenance orders in Texas?

If a judge has ordered your spouse to pay maintenance, they can pay a maximum amount of the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of your spouse’s average monthly gross income.

How long is the duration for spousal maintenance payments?

As mentioned earlier, courts tend to favor shorter rather than longer spousal maintenance periods, typically awarding support for the shortest time necessary for you to achieve financial stability. Exceptions to this rule apply if you are responsible for caring for a disabled child or have a mental or physical disability preventing you from working.

In terms of duration, if spousal maintenance is granted due to family violence, the maximum period for marital support is five years. For marriages lasting 10-20 years, the same five-year limit applies. Marriages spanning 20 to 30 years have a maximum duration of seven years for spousal maintenance, while unions lasting 30 or more years can receive support for up to ten years.

Tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC: Contractual Maintenance

Please come back to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC’s website tomorrow to learn about the second type of spousal maintenance in Texas: Contractual Maintenance.

If you have any questions regarding today’s blog post or any other aspect of family law, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. A complimentary consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is just a phone call away.


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  1. Modification of Spousal Maintenance in Texas
  2. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Truths and Untruths
  3. Spousal Maintenance for a Disabled Spouse in Texas
  4. Spousal Maintenance in Texas: Maximum payable amounts and length of commitments to pay
  5. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Should I be worried?
  6. Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce: Court Ordered Maintenance
  7. Know-How to Determine Whether Alimony will be Owed and for How Long, When Preparing for Your Texas Divorce
  8. 3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support
  9. Alimony or Spousal Support and a Disabled Spouse in Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas
  10. Spousal Support, Spousal Maintenance, and Alimony in Spring and Houston, Texas, and when is it available? Spousal Support Availability in a Texas Divorce
  11. Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring 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 Spring, TX 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 Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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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