Divorce is a difficult process. What can make it even more difficult is finding financial independence after a divorce. Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support, is an award granted by a judge of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. A spouse may request spousal support if they cannot meet their minimum reasonable needs after a divorce. However, there is a rebuttable presumption that spousal support is not warranted unless the spouse seeking support can prove otherwise.
Do I Qualify for Spousal Support?
A Court will award spousal support if the requesting spouse does not have enough property at the time of the divorce to provide for basic needs and one of the following circumstances is met:
- The spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an offense of family violence, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or spouse’s child and the offense occurred within two years before the date of the divorce is filed or while the suit is pending;
- The requesting spouse is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs due to a physical or mental disability;
- The couple has been married for 10 years or longer, and the dependent spouse lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
- The requesting spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to meet minimum reasonable needs
Factors in Determining Spousal Support
A Court will evaluate various factors to determine if spousal support is appropriate, the amount, and the duration of support. These factors include:
- Each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs;
- Education and employment skills of the spouses;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support;
- The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
- Marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment; and
- Any history or pattern of family violence.
How Long Can Spousal Support Last?
- Five years, if the spouses were married less than 10 years and the supporting spouse was convicted of family violence;
- Five years, if the spouses were married more than 10 years but less than 20 years;
- Seven years, if the spouses were married for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years, and
- Ten years, if the spouses were married for at least 30 or more years.
The Court will limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking support to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
Can Spousal Support End Before The Termination Date?
Yes! Maintenance orders will end before the termination date if:
- either party dies,
- the supported spouse remarries,
- the supported spouse cohabitates with a third-party while in a dating or romantic relationship, or
- upon a review or future order of the court. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.056.)
The Oxner Legha Law Firm handles all aspects of family law. If you are seeking spousal support or would like more information, please contact us at the Oxner Legha Law Firm by calling 346-327-9500 and our experienced family law attorney will help assist you.