Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a form of financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. In Texas, spousal maintenance is not automatic, and eligibility for it depends on several factors. This article will provide an overview of Texas spousal maintenance law and help you determine whether you are eligible for it.
Under Texas law, a spouse may be eligible for spousal maintenance if they can demonstrate that they lack sufficient property, including separate property, to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Additionally, the spouse must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- The spouse seeking maintenance must have been married to the other spouse for at least ten years and lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance must be unable to earn sufficient income due to a physical or mental disability; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance must be caring for a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability, making it impossible for the spouse to work outside the home and provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
It is worth noting that the length of the marriage is a significant factor in determining eligibility for spousal maintenance. If the marriage lasted less than ten years, it is generally more challenging to qualify for spousal maintenance. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and a skilled family law attorney can help you determine your eligibility based on your specific circumstances.
How Much Alimony Can You Get?
Assuming that you meet the eligibility criteria, the amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments will depend on several factors. Texas law does not provide a specific formula for calculating spousal maintenance, so the court will consider various factors, including:
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse;
- The education and skills of each spouse;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, employment history, and health of each spouse;
- The marital property division;
- The contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including both homemaking and earning contributions;
- The presence of domestic violence in the marriage; and
- Any other factor the court deems relevant.
If the court determines that you are eligible for spousal maintenance, they will determine the amount and duration of payments based on the above factors. In Texas, spousal maintenance is limited in duration depending on the length of the marriage and/or whether a spouse is disabled.
Spousal maintenance is also limited in amount to a maximum of twenty percent of gross income or $5,000 per month whichever is less. Texas law also provides that the judge shall award spousal maintenance for the least amount of time and the least amount of money that it would take the spouse to be able to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
Can Alimony Payments Change?
It is important to note that spousal maintenance can be modified or terminated under certain circumstances. For example, if the spouse receiving maintenance remarries or cohabitates with another person in a romantic relationship, they may no longer be eligible for maintenance payments. Additionally, if the spouse’s income or earning capacity significantly improves, the court may modify or terminate the maintenance payments.
In conclusion, spousal maintenance is not automatic in Texas and depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, and the presence of physical or mental disabilities. If you believe you may be eligible for spousal maintenance, it is essential to speak with a skilled family law attorney here at Lundberg Law who can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today for a free consultation.