Family Law Cases in Texas: Spousal Maintenance and Children’s Issues

Family Law Cases in Texas: Spousal Maintenance and Children's Issues

In Texas family law, two areas stand out: spousal maintenance and children’s issues. This article provides a focused exploration of these key aspects, offering essential insights and guidance for those navigating these critical legal matters.

You might disagree because discussing the breakdown of a long-term, committed relationship into a matter of money seems unbecoming.

That’s fine. Ultimately, a divorce acts as a financial transaction. Once you set aside any children-related issues (which we’ll discuss shortly), an economic pie remains that you and your spouse need to slice and divide.

Spousal Maintenance: An Overview

A slice of the financial settlement in a divorce might include spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support. The court orders one spouse to make these payments from their future income to support the other spouse. Under certain circumstances, such as family violence within two years of filing for divorce, a judge may require spousal maintenance payments.

Furthermore, if you and your spouse have been married for at least ten years, the court can order spousal support. This situation arises when the spouse receiving support lacks enough separate property to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Typically, a disabled spouse or one who cannot work due to childcare responsibilities fits this criterion.

How Long and How Much Spousal Support Can Be Awarded in Your Divorce?

Courts have limits on the spousal support they can order. Remember, they call for producing spousal support to meet a party’s minimum basic needs.

This does not mean helping them live the lifestyle they have become accustomed to or anything like that. At most, a judge can order that you or your spouse pay no more than $5,000 per month or twenty percent of your gross monthly income towards spousal support– whichever of those numbers is less.

The length of your marriage also limits the duration of the spousal maintenance award.An exception to this rule is in place if you or your spouse has a mental or physical handicap that keeps either of you from providing for your minimum basic needs.

Consequences of Failing to Pay Court-Ordered Spousal Support

Family Law Cases in Texas: Spousal Maintenance and Children's Issues

If either you and your spouse agreed that spousal maintenance should be paid after a divorce or the judge in your case ordered that it be paid for some time, those orders will be reflected in your Final Decree of Divorce.

If the spouse ordered to pay the maintenance does not do so, then there will be an opportunity for the other spouse to file an enforcement case against them much like you would for missed child support payments. This means that if you miss payments of spousal support, a judge can find you per violation and even assess jail time against you.

Spousal maintenance can be serious business if you are being asked to pay or if you find yourself in a position where you need some temporary support for some time after your divorce. If this is your reality, I would recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you who has experience in negotiating regarding spousal maintenance. It is a short-term investment that can have a dramatic effect on your life well after your divorce has concluded.

Children’s Issues in a Texas Divorce

Your Final Decree of Divorce will include what is known as a Parenting Plan. This Parenting Plan includes language regarding your conservatorship rights over your children, a visitation schedule for the parent who does not have primary conservatorship of your children, and will lay out what the child support responsibilities are for the parent who has to pay child support.

This is a lengthy section in your Decree and will seek to avoid future disputes between you and your ex-spouse. If your Divorce Decree covers it, then there is no sense arguing about it- or worse- going back to court to have a judge clarify or make any additional orders.

Your court covers child support and conservatorship issues related to your children until your children reach eighteen years of age or graduate high school, whichever of those occurs furthest into the future.

If your child has a disability or handicap, the court may extend the duration for making rulings on these matters. If your child cannot support themselves independently, expect the court to maintain jurisdiction for as long as necessary.

Child Custody Matters

Family Law Cases in Texas: Spousal Maintenance and Children's Issues

In divorce cases, children under 18 or those not yet graduated from high school play a crucial role. Parents often use the term “custody” to express their wish to live with their children. Typically, the court names divorcing parents Joint Managing Conservators, ensuring they share equal rights and responsibilities over their children. This setup grants both parents equal time with the children throughout the year.

Rights and Duties: More Than Just Time Spent

Spending time with children is vital, but sharing rights and duties holds equal importance. These rights and duties cover joint decision-making in medical, educational, and psychiatric matters, except in emergencies. Often, parents appoint a neutral third party, such as a teacher or doctor, to act as a “tie-breaker” in unresolved disputes.

The Role of Primary Conservator

The court may designate one parent as the primary conservator, who decides the children’s primary residence. This means the children will mainly live with this parent, while the other parent—termed the Possessory Conservator—gets specified visitation times.

Shared and Individual Rights

Aside from child support and residence decisions, most rights and duties are equally shared. This includes critical decisions about the child’s welfare. Parents have the freedom to divide these rights and duties as they see fit, but they must reach a mutual agreement. Failing this, the court intervenes to make these crucial decisions.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan

We hope you come back to read more as we focus on issues relating to your children in a divorce.

Any questions on this subject can be addressed to the family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week and would be honored to speak to you about your situation.


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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, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston, 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, Houston, 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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