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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spousal Maintenance In Texas—Are You Entitled To It?

Are you experiencing financial difficulty during or following your divorce action?  Under the Texas Family Code, spousal maintenance is awarded when one spouse cannot provide for their own needs post-divorce or during the pending matrimonial case.  The requesting spouse must make a showing to the court that he or she has attempted to acquire financial stability during the divorce action

In addition to a spouse’s ability to be fiscally self-sufficient, courts consider several factors in determining whether a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance.  This may include the partners’ economic resources, pre-existing child support obligations, education or other proficiencies and skills, and health status, such as a disability that stops a spouse from gaining or maintaining employment.   Likewise, if you are the primary care taker of a child with a disability and raising the child prevents you from working, this will also be taken into an account. 

There are several circumstances that may prevent or heighten an award.  For example, any evidence of violence, adultery, or fraud will be construed against the offending spouse and may prevent the offending spouse from receiving spousal maintenance.  Moreover, a longer marriage may warrant a higher award.  A ten-year marriage is usually the minimum length to which a court will grant spousal maintenance. 

It is essential to seek an attorney to assess the likelihood you will be awarded maintenance and the statute of limitations for bringing your action.  An attorney can also inform you of the probability that an existing order will be terminated, such as with the death of a spouse, remarriage, or permanent living situation with a romantic interest, otherwise known as “cohabitation.”  Evidence often needs to be presented to the judge to prove that “cohabitation” exists.  Sometimes, a court order is required to terminate spousal maintenance, but in other circumstances, it may become automatic after a triggering event.

There are also monetary limits to the amount a spouse can receive per month.  This amount is usually twenty percent and there may be tax implications for any monies received.  Furthermore, an attorney can help you enforce an over-due spousal maintenance payment, or aid you in terminating or modifying a present award for spousal maintenance.  However, to receive a modification, it must be demonstrated that there is a “significant change” in your finances.  Therefore, the court will look to the salaries of both spouses and compare it with any alteration of a spouse’s necessities.  


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