Going through a divorce can be a complex and emotional process. Uncertainties about finances are a common concern, and understanding spousal support options is crucial. While Texas doesn’t use the term “alimony,” it does offer court-ordered spousal maintenance in certain situations. This article will explain what spousal maintenance is, how to qualify for it, and how long it might last.

Is Texas an Alimony State?

Technically, Texas is not an alimony state. Texas is a community property state, meaning most marital assets and debts are divided relatively equally during a divorce. In theory, this equal division aims to provide for both spouses after the separation. However, there are situations where one spouse may still need additional financial assistance to meet their minimum reasonable needs. This is where spousal maintenance comes in.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse (the obligor) to the other spouse (the obligee). The purpose is to help the obligee meet their minimum reasonable needs, considering their current financial circumstances.

Qualifying for Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Obtaining spousal maintenance in Texas requires meeting specific criteria set by law. Here are the key factors the court considers:

  • Financial Need: The spouse seeking maintenance must demonstrate they cannot meet their minimum reasonable needs after the division of marital property and with their current income-earning capacity.
  • Marriage Duration: Generally, marriages lasting less than 10 years are unlikely to qualify for spousal maintenance. For marriages exceeding 10 years, the duration becomes a factor in determining the award amount and duration. You may not need to be married for 10 years if there has been a domestic violence conviction in the last two years.
  • Self-Sufficiency: The court will consider the obligee’s ability to become self-supporting through employment or retraining. Age, health, education level, and childcare responsibilities are all taken into account.
  • Standard of Living: The court examines the standard of living established during the marriage and aims to ensure the obligee doesn’t experience a significant decline in their basic needs.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: The court may consider contributions like homemaking, childcare, or career support made by the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • Fault in the Divorce: While not the primary factor, the court may consider if the conduct of either spouse contributed to the divorce (e.g., adultery) when determining the maintenance award.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

Texas law dictates the maximum duration of spousal maintenance based on the length of the marriage:

  • Marriages less than 20 years: Up to 5 years
  • Marriages between 20 and 30 years: Up to 7 years
  • Marriages exceeding 30 years: Up to 10 years

There are also provisions for indefinite maintenance in exceptional circumstances, such as disability of one spouse, but these are rare. The court can also order temporary spousal maintenance during the divorce proceedings.

How Much Spousal Maintenance Can I Get?

The Court is required to order the least amount of spousal maintenance that will enable the other spouse to meet their minimum reasonable needs. The Court may not award more than twenty percent of gross wages or five thousand dollars, whichever is less.

Do You Have More Questions?

Spousal maintenance can be an important factor in your financial security after divorce. Consulting with an experienced Texas family law attorney  like Gregg Lundberg is essential to navigate the legal complexities and determine your eligibility for spousal maintenance. He can guide you through the process, represent you in court, and advocate for a fair outcome that meets your needs.

Contact Lundberg Law today to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific situation. We understand the challenges of divorce and are committed to helping you through this difficult time.

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