Going through divorce means change, and this change often extends well-beyond the personal and social aspects of a person’s life. Often, the livelihoods of both parties are disrupted.
One party may have depended on their ex-spouse’s income during marriage and may be unable to support themselves after separation. To keep an ex-spouse from falling into poverty, the Texas courts can prescribe spousal maintenance — also known as alimony. This often takes the form of monthly payments made by the monied spouse to the spouse requiring support.
However, not everyone is eligible for spousal maintenance. The parties may come to terms themselves, but certain qualifications must be met for a court to impose monthly payments.
Firstly, the petitioning spouse must demonstrate their economic and financial shortcomings. In other words, they must prove to the court that they cannot support their “minimum reasonable needs”.
After clearing this threshold one of two other conditions must be met:
- the paying spouse was convicted of an act of family violence that took place within two years of the divorce or while the divorce was pending; or
- the petitioning spouse is unable to meet their reasonable needs because of their own physical or mental disability or their duties to a child of the marriage that suffers from a physical or mental disability; or
- the marriage lasted ten or more years.
If the above conditions are met, the court will then determine the monthly amount and duration of payments. Usually, payments are either $5,000 a month or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less. In terms of duration, payments last either 5, 7, or 10 years depending on the length of the marriage and other circumstances but may be indefinite if the petitioning spouse or their dependent child is disabled.
Although some divorces are settled amicably, others may be contentious and, all too often, spousal maintenance is at the center of the dispute. An experienced family lawyer can help protect your rights and those of your child.