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Will you owe your spouse alimony after a divorce

Depending upon the circumstances of your divorce, one of the major issues that you may be facing has to do with the subject of spousal maintenance or contractual alimony. These are the two different kinds of post-divorce spousal support that may be relevant to your case. In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss what it means to go through a divorce where spousal maintenance or contractual alimony is relevant. Additionally, I would like to discuss whether you will be expected to pay spousal maintenance to your spouse after your divorce.

 the decision that a family court judge will consider when it comes to spousal maintenance depends upon several factors in your case. Certainly, your spouse may need extra income after the divorce. That happens a great deal when a two-income household suddenly becomes a one-income household. Your bills and other responsibilities do not necessarily go away simply because you have gotten a divorce. However, with pinched budgets and rising costs after an extensive divorce, your spouse may truly need some degree of assistance.

That's not to say that you will be in a great financial position, either. A divorce can be taxing on just about everyone's finances. Paying for an attorney, spending time away from work, extra costs associated with expert witnesses, and the other necessities of your divorce may get you at a point where your budget is nearing the breaking point. The last thing that you think you could ever need is to have to pay spousal maintenance or any other kind of benefit to your spouse unless necessary. This will be the question that we answer in today's blog post.

Like anything else in the world of Texas family law, alimony is a subject that is incredibly facts-specific. While we will do our best to go over a broad number of topics associated with spousal maintenance in contractual alimony in today's blog post, the simple truth is that when it comes to issues regarding spousal maintenance or contractual alimony the financial circumstances of you, your spouse and a host of other factors are an incredibly important period I can provide you with information related to these subjects on a general level but until you have your questions and scenarios answered regarding your life none of that makes a difference. 

For that reason, I recommend reaching out to one of the experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We can talk to you about your specific circumstances and listen to what you have to say. After the consultation, we will give you information about our law practice and what it means to become one of our clients. At that point, you can decide how to move forward based on your best interests and that of your family.

Your finances after a divorce

Where the rubber hits the road in a spousal maintenance scenario has a lot to do with your financial situation after your divorce. As you may have guessed, a divorce can end up being quite expensive. That's not to say that you can't have a budget divorce or even a reasonably priced divorce. However, even if you choose your turn wisely, negotiate diligently, and otherwise minimize the cost of a divorce your situation may end up costing you more money than you would like.

Minimizing the costs of a divorce are a good idea when you can do so and not suffer from being unable to accomplish your goals within the case. Probably the most significant way you can reduce the costs of a divorce would be to negotiate diligently with your spouse rather than resort to litigation and courtroom appearances. The main driving force behind the cost of divorce has to do with utilizing your attorney. Every time your attorney does anything in your case, from sending an e-mail to appearing with you in court, that costs you money. Therefore, the more you can do directly with your spouse and divorce unless your divorce is going to cost you.

You will find that in some circumstances is impossible to avoid paying your attorney to do certain things. For example, if you have mediation, a temporary order hearing, or a trial coming up then you will need to be able to make sure that your attorney has sufficient money to prepare for the hearing. At the same time, day-to-day settlement negotiations and discussions about your case can and should be handled between you and your spouse if possible. Some of you may have spouses that you cannot reason with and cannot negotiate with, either. In those situations, you may need to utilize the assistance of your attorney more often. 

For everyone else, you should take advantage of the opportunities you have to discuss the merits of your case with your Co-parent and spouse to see if you can arrive at any middle ground as far as settlement options are concerned. This also relates to the subject of spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance can only be ordered by a family court judge after a trial. Therefore, to even have spousal maintenance ordered your spouse would need to present evidence in a trial that it was necessary and have the judge believe that he or she cannot meet their minimum basic needs without the support. Importantly, the judge would also have to find that you have sufficient money in your budget to be able to pay the amount is possible maintenance for the duration of the award.

Negotiating for contractual alimony

Contractual alimony, on the other hand, is an award of post-divorced spousal support that can only be ordered after you agree to pay it to your spouse once the divorce is complete. In that way, you and your spouse would have to have some level of understanding that spousal support with needed and that you could pay for it. If you and your spouse are not in agreement on that subject, then you may have to go to trial to determine whether or not spousal maintenance would be more appropriate. That depends upon how far your spouse wants to go to pursue the support that he or she believes that they or needs.

Otherwise, if you believe that spousal support is going to be necessary for your spouse, or that contractual alimony is a part of the bargaining process in your case, then you can agree to contractual alimony before you even get to a trial. However, there are some considerations for you to think about before you readily accept any offer for contractual alimony. The bottom line is that agreeing to pay contractual alimony simply to avoid a trial is not always a good decision. You must look at the totality of your case and begin with I determination of whether a judge will be likely to order spousal maintenance when you go to a trial.

First, you should understand that spousal maintenance can only be awarded in certain limited situations. First, you and your spouse would have needed to have been married for at least 10 years for a family court judge to order this form of post-divorce spousal support. The longer that you two were married the longer the spousal maintenance order can be. However, in most cases, the award is not able to last longer than 10 years. What many people do not understand about spousal maintenance in Texas is that it is not intended to be a lifetime award or something where you can continue to live a certain lifestyle in your post-divorce life. Rather, spousal maintenance is intended to help you meet your minimum basic needs.

Next, your spouse would need to show that she cannot earn an income, liquidate the property or obtain sufficient income for herself by her means. This goes to the heart of how Community property can be divided. For example, if you all have a substantial Community property estate that could be divided to help your spouse meet their minimum basic needs for a certain. After the divorce then that is something that a family court judge would look to.

Additionally, especially for people who are on their second or third marriage, you may have a substantial amount of separate property I could get you through the initial a few years after a divorce rather than have a spousal maintenance fee ordered. When we see that spousal maintenance is intended to be only a temporary payment, this type of consideration makes much more sense.

One of the most important considerations in the entirety of spousal maintenance is whether or not you have the financial wherewithal to pay the support to your spouse. Most people do not have it in their budget to pay spousal maintenance after a difficult and long divorce. If your spouse does financially need spousal maintenance but you are not able to pay that then you may see a judge award your spouse a disproportionate share of your community estate to compensate him or her.

How to protect yourself from having to pay spousal maintenance

Let's look at the situation as if you are a spouse who is concerned with the need to possibly pay spousal maintenance after a divorce. Your spouse may have been a stay-at-home parent and mother who is now having to fend for herself without your income to assist. In a situation like that, it is reasonable to expect her to ask for spousal maintenance in the divorce. However, we have already gone over the factors that could lead to spousal maintenance being ordered. In those cases, the specific circumstances of your life would be under the microscope as far as determining whether you may be on the hook for maintenance.

The first thing that I would look to in a case like yours is to determine what your household budget is per month. You should work out what your monthly income is and then determine what expenses you have after the divorce. Having a level of detail in terms of how much rent you expect to pay, what your bills are, child support, and a host of other financial concerns should be prepared. This is important not only for a possible trial situation to submit as evidence but also for negotiation and mediation.

When it comes to negotiating in good faith with your spouse the more detailed you can be the better. Remember that you may know that you are being honest with him or her but their first instinct may be that you are being less than forthcoming with information. In that case, the better you can document the arguments you are making the better prepared you can be when it comes to negotiation. Simply telling your spouse that you don't have the money while in mediation when it comes to paying spousal maintenance is not necessarily the most compelling argument to make. Rather, if you can come prepared to show your spouse exactly what your bills are and what your budget is then the two of you will be able to approach the subject much differently.

One of the most important factors to consider when discussing spousal maintenance is to think about this case from the perspective of your spouse. Even though it may pain you to think about the case from the perspective of a person who is asking you for a great deal of money the fact remains that doing so will allow you to see how he or she is approaching this issue and whether he or she is making the argument in good faith. I think just understanding that he or she is not out to rob you blind but rather has a legitimate need can put you in a much different mindset specifically for negotiation and mediation.

How can the obligation to pay spousal maintenance come to an end?

Besides the obvious answer of the award running out due to a limitation outlined in your divorce decree, some circumstances can lead to an order to pay spousal maintenance ending. You can negotiate in your final decree of divorce to contain specific language alluding to these conditions. However, these conditions are outlined in statutes contained in the Texas family code.

The most straightforward of these conditions where spousal maintenance in the obligation to pay it may come to an end would be if your spouse passes away. In that event, your obligation to pay spousal maintenance would cease and you would not have to pay his or her estate. This is true unless you have negotiated for something else. You should be familiar with the provisions in your final decree of divorce and make sure that you are aware of what your specific obligations are.

The more complicated way for your obligation to pay spousal maintenance to come to an end would be for your ex-spouse to begin cohabitating with another person that they are in a relationship with. This can be a tricky want to prove unless and until your ex-spouse marries that person. Proving that a marriage has occurred is very easy. However, in a typical situation where your ex-spouse simply begins to live with their romantic partner, there are ways to avoid easy detection. It may take some diligence on your part to be able to collect enough evidence to come forward to the court to prove that the necessary conditions are in place. You should not necessarily expect your ex-spouse willingly to come forward and admit that he or she is in a cohabitation situation.

For those of you who are interested, people in Texas can be in a common law marriage. A common law marriage means that you are legally married to another person even if you have not gone through with a formal ceremony. Three conditions must be present simultaneously for a common law marriage to be in existence. First, your ex-spouse and their partner must be cohabitating. Next, the two of them must agree to be married. 3rd and finally the two of them must be in a position where they are holding themselves out to the community as being married. If their friends believe that they are married and if they introduce themselves as husband and wife then a common law marriage is in place. In a circumstance where you and your ex-spouse are in a spousal maintenance situation, this could potentially be important information to keep in your back pocket.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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