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How Is the Amount of Spousal Maintenance Payments Determined?

Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

Collin County Divorce AttorneyDuring a couple's divorce, one party may ask for financial support from their former partner. This form of support is officially known as spousal maintenance in Texas, although it can also be referred to as alimony or spousal support. Maintenance will not be an issue that will be addressed in every divorce, but it may be a factor in cases where one spouse earns most or all of the income used to provide for a family's needs, especially if the other spouse may struggle to support themselves while also caring for children or other family members. In cases where spousal support is appropriate, the parties will need to understand how the amount that one spouse will pay to the other will be determined.

Factors Used to Determine Spousal Support Payments

Generally, spousal maintenance will only be awarded in a small number of situations. These may include cases in which a spouse or child has been a victim of domestic violence, as well as situations where a spouse has a disability that prevents them from earning an income or devotes their time to caring for a child with a disability. If these issues are not a factor, spousal support will usually only be granted if a couple was married for at least 10 years and a spouse will be unable to support themselves financially, such as when a spouse has been a homemaker for the majority of the couple's marriage.

If a family court judge determines that a spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance, they will then consider a variety of factors to determine the amount that should be paid, the method and frequency of payments, and the duration that payments will last. These factors include:

  • Each party's ability to provide for their own individual needs based on the resources they will have after the couple's marriage has been dissolved, including the assets and debts allocated to them during the property division process.

  • Each party's education and employment skills, which will determine the income that they should each be able to earn. If the spouse seeking maintenance will require further education or training before they can support themselves, the amount of time needed to do so may be considered, as well as the availability of educational opportunities and the feasibility of pursuing education while attending to other responsibilities, such as providing care for children.

  • The number of years the couple was married.

  • The status of the spouse seeking support, including their age, physical and mental health, past employment, and skills that affect their ability to earn an income.

  • How the requirement to pay child support or spousal support will affect a spouse's ability to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs.

  • Actions taken by either spouse that have affected the couple's jointly-owned property, including concealing or destroying assets or making excessive and abnormal expenditures of marital funds.

  • Any contributions by one spouse to the other spouse's education, career, or income level.

  • The separate property that either spouse brought into the couple's marriage.

  • A spouse's contributions to their marriage as a stay-at-home parent or homemaker, including the value of household duties, childcare responsibilities, and support provided to the other spouse.

  • Any forms of marital misconduct committed by either spouse, including adultery, emotional abuse, or other forms of cruel treatment.

  • Any history of family violence committed by either spouse.

By looking at all of these factors, a judge may determine a reasonable amount that one spouse should pay to the other, ensuring that both parties will have sufficient resources to provide for their ongoing needs. Generally, maintenance payments will last for no more than five years if a couple was married for up to 20 years. For marriages of more than 20 years, maintenance may be paid for up to seven years, and for marriages of more than 30 years, maintenance may last for up to 10 years.

Contact Our McKinney Spousal Maintenance Attorney

If you think spousal maintenance will be a factor in your divorce, The Ramage Law Group can help you approach this issue correctly while ensuring you take the right steps to protect your rights and financial interests. We can advocate on your behalf, whether you are pursuing spousal support or are being asked to make payments to your ex-spouse. Contact our Collin County spousal support lawyer today at 972-562-9890 to set up a confidential consultation and learn more about how we can help with your divorce.



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