How Does Spousal Maintenance Work?

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How Does Spousal Maintenance Work?

Spousal maintenance is the financial support that a person is ordered by a court to give to their spouse during separation or following divorce. It is many times known by another term – alimony. While Texas law does not include the term alimony, many know it by that name.

Spousal maintenance dates back to 1754 BC in the Code of Hammurabi. It was a widely accepted part of divorce in which a man had to provide support to a woman if he decided to separate from her. As time progressed and no-fault divorce came into play, the gender bias surrounding spousal maintenance disappeared.

Here are the answers to some common FAQs surrounding spousal maintenance.

Is spousal maintenance automatic?

No. Spousal maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis.

How does one qualify for spousal maintenance?

According to Texas law, someone can qualify for spousal maintenance if they “will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on the dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs and:

  1.  The spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence…committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child and the offense occurred:
    1. within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or
    2.  while the suit is pending; or
  2. The spouse seeking maintenance:
    1. is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability.
    2. has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
    3. is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.”

Are spousal support and spousal maintenance the same thing?

No. In Texas, spousal support is voluntary. Spousal maintenance is court-ordered.

What does the court look at in determining the maintenance amount?

The court will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • Education of spouses
  • Income level of spouses
  • Duration of marriage
  • Health of spouses
  • Employability of spouse

They will also consider anything else deemed important.

How long does spousal maintenance last?

The award time of spousal maintenance is in the divorce decree. It usually lasts until the spouse receiving payment gets employed or circumstances change. Additionally, if the spouse receiving payments gets married or cohabitates with someone it will end. Finally, if either spouse dies, the maintenance will cease.

Is an Attorney Needed?

If you are going through a divorce, getting a divorce lawyer is highly recommended. They can advocate for you and make sure to present your circumstances clearly to a judge so that you get the best possible outcome. If your circumstances change and you want to adjust your maintenance, they can bring that to the courts as well. If you are located in downtown Denton,  contact Navarette Bowen P.C. We have a team of experienced divorce lawyers that can help.

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Navarrette | Bowen, P.C. | Family Law Attorneys | Denton, TX