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Demystifying Spousal Maintenance in Your Texas Divorce, Part Two

In the first post of our blog series about Spousal Maintenance in Texas divorces, we delved into the intricacies of court-ordered spousal maintenance. We also discussed the specific circumstances that justify its awarding. If you haven’t already, I suggest revisiting that entry for a comprehensive understanding. Misconceptions and partial truths about spousal support in Texas are widespread. Gaining clarity on this topic is crucial for a clear perspective pre-divorce.

The current entry addresses Contractual Spousal Maintenance, marking the conclusion of our series on this matter. Distinct from court-ordered maintenance, contractual spousal maintenance is a matter of mutual agreement, necessitating a detailed exploration of its nuances.

Key Points for Those Undergoing Divorce

As previously mentioned, a fundamental distinction between contractual and court-ordered spousal maintenance lies in its voluntary nature. This entails a mutual agreement between you and your spouse where one party agrees to provide support, and the other to receive it for a predetermined period. Such agreements typically arise during mediation or informal discussions between your and your spouse’s attorneys.

Texas Family Code or other statutory laws do not mandate a specific duration or amount for contractual spousal maintenance.

Contrary to court-ordered spousal maintenance, which is subject to limits in terms of amount and duration, contractual spousal maintenance operates differently.

The Importance of Stable Income for Non-Working Spouses Post-Divorce

Intentions to receive spousal maintenance post-divorce don’t negate aspirations to rejoin the workforce or gradually reintegrate into it. In fact, contractual spousal support can facilitate funding for additional training or educational expenses, aiding in job procurement.

Similarly, if the agreed plan involves staying in the family home and assuming mortgage liabilities, a steady income stream becomes crucial for mortgage refinancing eligibility. Here, contractual spousal maintenance can offer consistent income to support refinancing efforts.

Understanding the Enforcement of Contractual Spousal Maintenance

Family law attorneys often advise settling divorce cases out of court, but it may pose challenges in enforcing agreements.

For instance, seeking court intervention to enforce your spouse’s maintenance obligations might limit the judge’s actions to the confines of the Texas Family Code’s stipulations regarding duration and amount.

To exemplify, consider a past case at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A client approached us after her ex-husband, facing financial difficulties, ceased his $2000 monthly spousal support payments stipulated in their divorce decree.

The maintenance continued until our client’s death, exceeding the Texas Family Code’s ten-year limit, except in cases involving the recipient’s disability or the care of a disabled child.

Our client felt disheartened to learn that a judge couldn’t enforce the lifelong payment clause.

Ending Contractual Spousal Maintenance

The obligation to pay contractual spousal maintenance ceases with either spouse’s death or if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner.

Prioritize Negotiations

In cases where substantial community assets exist, you might secure enough liquid assets from your divorce to negate the need for spousal maintenance. This, combined with potential child support, might alleviate concerns about financial stability.