Alimony in Texas is referred to as spousal maintenance, and it doesn't work the way most people think alimony works.
In order to qualify for spousal maintenance, a spouse must first show that, if they are divorced, they will lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. What a person's "minimum reasonable needs" are is something courts determine on a case-by-case basis, usually by looking at monthly expenses.
Once the spouse has met this initial requirement, then there are multiple paths to qualify for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is available if the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a family violence crime against the other spouse or the other spouse's child. The offense must have occurred during the marriage and either within two years before the date the divorce suit is filed or while the divorce suit is pending. Spousal maintenance is also available if the spouse requesting maintenance either: (1) can't earn sufficient income to meet their minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability, (2) has been married for at least 10 years and lacks the ability to earn a sufficient income to meet their minimum reasonable needs, or (3) is the custodian of a child from the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs.
The spouse required to pay spousal maintenance is called the "Obligor." The maximum amount of spousal support is $5,000.00 per month or 20% of the Obligor's average monthly gross income, whichever amount is less. "Gross income" means all income actually being received minus the following: (1) return of principal or capital; (2) accounts receivable; (3) benefits paid under federal public assistance programs; (4) benefits paid under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; (5) payments for foster care of a child; (6) Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability compensation; (7) supplemental security income (SSI), social security benefits, and disability benefits; and (8) workers' compensation benefits.
When deciding how much monthly spousal maintenance should be paid, the courts consider multiple factors. Such factors include: (1) each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs independently; (2) each spouse's financial resources on dissolution of the marriage; (3) the education and employment skills of the spouses; (4) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable a spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income and the availability and feasibility of that education or training; (5) the duration of the marriage; (6) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; (7) periodic child support payments; (8) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property or other property held in common; (9) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; (10) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse; (11) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (12) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and (13) any history or pattern of family violence.
The duration of spousal maintenance payments depends on multiple factors. If the spouse who receives maintenance, also known as the "Obligee," qualified for spousal maintenance because he or she couldn't earn enough income for his or her minimum reasonable needs due to his or her own disability or having to care for a child with a disability, then spousal maintenance can last as long as the disability exists. Otherwise, courts will seek to limit the duration of spousal maintenance to the shortest reasonable period that allows the Obligee to earn sufficient income to provide for the Obligee's minimum reasonable needs, and in these situations, the maximum duration of spousal maintenance depends on the duration of the marriage. If the marriage lasted less than 10 years but the Obligee qualified for spousal maintenance because of a family violence crime committed during the marriage, then spousal maintenance can last up to 5 years. If the marriage lasted between 10 and 20 years, then spousal maintenance can last up to 5 years. If the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years, then spousal maintenance can last up to 7 years. If the marriage lasted at least 30 years, then spousal maintenance can last up to 10 years.
If you plan on filing for divorce and believe you qualify for spousal maintenance, contact Sugar Land divorce attorney Chikeersha Puvvada at 832-317-6705 or online today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.