When a long-term marriage ends, questions arise on how the event will impact overall lifestyle during and after a divorce. The premise of alimony or “spousal support” is to reduce unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing continued income to a nonworking spouse to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Alimony is payment one spouse makes to the other spouse. A judge can order post-divorce spousal support or alimony if a person meets the minimum requirements imposed by the Texas Family Code, but it’s important to understand that it is not guaranteed, which is why retaining a skilled attorney is necessary to obtain optimal results.
Ready to discuss your case? Schedule a confidential consultation with our law firm. Call 713-783-3110 or contact us online.
Let’s take a deeper look into what the courts will consider when determining spousal support:
- The length of the marriage
- Whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the education or training or increased the earning ability of the other spouse. For example, supporting your spouse through medical school.
- Each spouse’s education and employment skills, how long it would take and how manageable it would be for the spouse seeking maintenance to receive education or training, and the availability of the training or education
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Contribution as a homemaker: If the nonworking spouse sacrificed a career of their own to support the household/family or worked in the family business without earning a salary.
- Marital misconduct such as acts of adultery or cruel treatment by either spouse, history of family violence or financial wrongdoing
- Division of property: Judges may consider what property was awarded to each spouse in the divorce and what property each spouse came into the marriage with
Amount of support and time-span:
The amount of post-divorce spousal maintenance that can be ordered will be no more than 5,000 or 20% of the payors gross monthly income– whichever is less. In Texas, spousal support or alimony is still considered “need base.” As a result, there is not a presumption that 20% or $5,000 applies, meaning the amount paid should not exceed the amount needed.
Texas law also sets a time-limit on spousal maintenance (unless special circumstances are involved such as a disability). In general, an order for spousal maintenance can last no longer than:
- Five years, if the marriage lasted less than ten years and the court ordered maintenance because the paying spouse committed an act of family violence
- Five years, if the marriage lasted between ten and 20 years long
- Seven years, if the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years long, and
- Ten years, if the marriage lasted 30 years or longer.
It’s also important to note that a post-divorce maintenance order will end before it’s termination date if:
- One of the spouses’ dies
- The spouse receiving maintenance remarries
- If the court finds after a hearing that the spouse receiving maintenance lives in a permanent home with another person in a dating or romantic relationship.
Solutions for you to move forward favorably:
Texas laws have come a long way toward protecting the non-wage earning spouse in a divorce, however, as we mentioned before, spousal support is not guaranteed. Our law firm, Hendershot Cannon Martin & Hisey, P.C., has the resources to deal with any alimony or maintenance issue and the litigation experience to take any case to trial. Do you think your spouse is hiding assets or not being honest about the family finances? We know how to interpret technical documents to understand schemes and trace funds to uncover deception.
Post-divorce spousal maintenance is no minor issue which is why we approach each case as unique as it is, using our knowledge and experience to find additional options to create responsibilities for support as applicable.
Other options for spousal support include:
- Temporary Spousal Support: A spouse can get a court order directing the other spouse to make spousal payments until the divorce is finalized. Whether you are seeking such support or faced with having to pay it, we can protect your right to be treated fairly throughout the process.
- Contractual Alimony: Couples can agree to support payments based on contract law, rather than the Texas family code. Our firm is adept at working out these agreements in appropriate cases, such as in marriages of short duration that do not qualify for alimony.
- Lump Sum payment: Rather than periodic payments spouses may agree to a lump sum payment of post-divorce maintenance.
There are creative ways to address post-divorce spousal maintenance. Tell us about your case and we’ll tell you how we can help. Call 713-783-3110 to schedule a consultation or contact us online.
Additional Resources for you.
- Factors that can cause a disproportionate award in a divorce
- In a divorce, don't forget to consider the retirement and pension!
- Dividing stock options in a Texas divorce