Spousal maintenance – also referred to as “alimony” in many states throughout the nation – refers to financial support given to a person by that person’s former spouse. Spousal maintenance can be given for a variety of different reasons in the State of Texas. When considering spousal maintenance, Texas judges conduct a case-by-case analysis and give weight to a range of factors; however, certain conditions must be present in order for a spousal maintenance request to be considered initially. Judges have some leeway in determining whether maintenance is appropriate in a given situation, but Texas law is rather strict in its treatment of the duration and amount of maintenance orders.
In this post, we will discuss the qualifications of spousal maintenance, and the standing presumption against maintenance in Texas. We will also go over some of the factors which play into spousal maintenance determinations, and how duration is decided.
Qualifications of Spousal Maintenance in Texas Law
Under Texas law, either spouse can request spousal maintenance following a divorce. But, in order for a maintenance request to even be considered, the requesting spouse must demonstrate that he or she lacks the ability to provide for essential or basic minimum needs. In addition, once that hurdle is met, the requesting spouse must show that at least one of four conditions are present: (1) the maintenance giving spouse was convicted of domestic violence within the last two years before the filing of the divorce, (2) the couple was married for a minimum of 10 years, and the requesting spouse lacks the ability to provide for basic minimum needs, (3) the requesting spouse possesses a physical or mental disability which impedes his or her ability to provide for basic minimum needs, or (4) the requesting spouse must take care of a child who requires supervision due to a physical or mental disability, and this parental responsibility inhibits the spouse from being self-supportive.
The Presumption Against Spousal Maintenance in Texas
To begin with, the State of Texas starts with a standing presumption that spousal maintenance is not appropriate. This means that the burden is on requesting spouses to provide evidence to overcome this presumption. The requesting spouse needs to show that he or she lacks the means necessary to provide for basic minimum needs; next, this spouse also needs to show that he or she has been making a good faith effort to become self-supportive since the separation. If the requesting spouse can show these things, and also demonstrate that one of the four conditions outlined above exist, then the court may move forward with an analysis to determine if an award should be granted.
The Determination & Duration of Spousal Maintenance Awards
If the court decides that a case merits an analysis based on its facts, then the court will review all the relevant circumstances and make a determination. In Texas law, a number of factors have shown to be significant in pushing the determination in favor of the requesting spouse. The following is an incomplete list of factors which judges will recognize in making a decision:
- Contributions made as a homemaker
- Property contributed to the marriage by either spouse
- History of domestic violence
- The length or duration of the marriage
- The ability of the non-requesting spouse to meet the other spouse’s needs
- The education and employability of each spouse
- The age, earning potential, and physical and mental status of the requesting spouse
These are just some of the relevant factors recognized by Texas courts. Then, if a Texas court determines that a spousal maintenance award is appropriate, Texas law provides stringent rules regarding the duration of the award. If the award is granted because of a physical or mental disability of the requesting spouse, then the award may persist for as long as the disability exists. However, for all other types of maintenance, there are clear guidelines which must be followed.
Maintenance can persist for 5 years if the spouses were married less than 10 years but there is a history of domestic violence; 5 years is also the maximum for couples who were married for more than 10 years but less than 20 years. Maintenance can last for 7 years for couples married for more than 20 years but less than 30 years. Finally, the maximum duration is 10 years, and that may only happen if the spouses were married for at least 30 years.
Contact The Ramage Law Group for More Information
This is just an introduction to spousal maintenance here in the State of Texas. There is plenty more to know, and we may return in the near future to discuss this important topic in more detail. For now, give the The Ramage Law Group a call today to learn more at 469-899-3533 .