Who Can Request Spousal Maintenance
Either party in the divorce can request maintenance payments. However, these payments arent automatic. In fact, they can be difficult to obtain. In order to qualify to receive payments, a handful of conditions must be met first.
First, the court must determine that the requesting spouse does not have enough in the way of property, income, or assets to be able to make a living. Determining this is only the first step. Once this has been determined true, then in addition to that, one or more of the following conditions must be true as well:
The paying spouse was recently convicted of a domestic violence charge against either the requesting spouse or one or more of the couples children.
The requesting spouse suffers from a physical or mental disability that makes it impossible for him or her to earn enough income to be self-sufficient.
The requesting spouse has custody of a child who requires extended care due to a disability, making it impossible for the requesting spouse to work.
The marriage has existed for at least ten years, and due to this long-term relationship, the requesting spouse has become dependent to the point where he or she faces extreme difficulty in finding a job or earning an income.
How Do I Get Court Ordered Spousal Maintenance In Texas
Court ordered spousal maintenance is the kind a family judge can order a spouse to pay involuntarily. But just because the law provides for it does not mean it is easy to get, that it will be a large amount of money, or it will last forever. To the contrary, the eligibility requirements for court ordered spousal maintenance are high, the amount and duration are restricted, and it can be changed or eliminated later. There is no “palimony” in Texas, meaning a court cannot require someone to pay spousal support if there was no ceremonial or common law marriage.
An ideal in Texas is it is in everyones best interests for as many people in Texas as possible to be employed. The theory is court ordered spousal maintenance can be a financial bridge between divorce and self-sufficiency. This is why it is often referred to as “rehabiliative” support. However, there is a prevailing view as well that spousal support creates a disincentive for a divorcee to return to gainful employment. That is one of the reasons the Texas legislature makes it tough for a former spouse in Texas to get court ordered spousal maintenance. However, Texas also recognizes that people need some help after divorce if they have been out of the work force, lack education, became disabled during marriage, must care for a disabled child and cannot work, or have experienced family violence.
After proving that, the spouse must also prove at least one of the following:
What Does The Court Consider When Ordering Alimony Payments
In order to make a decision about ordering alimony payments, each judge will have the right to weigh all of the factors in the marriage and the circumstances surrounding the divorce. Most judges will enter the courtroom with the assumption that alimony payments are not necessary or warranted until proven otherwise.
The court can order alimony or spousal support if the spouse who seeks it will not have enough property at the time the divorce is finalized to cover basic living needs AND at least one particular circumstance is met:
- The individual financial status of each spouse, and his or her income level, compared to the cost of his or her living expenses.
- The ease with which each spouse could find gainful employment to cover those expenses .
- Disabilities of a spouse or a child, which require full-time caregiving and severely prevent that spouse from being gainfully employed.
- Relationship history, including potential domestic violence or abuse.
- Property awarded or brought to the marriage by one particular spouse.
- Child-support payments.
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An Extreme Story That Relates To Temporary Spousal Support
Our office represented a husband/father a couple of years ago who was going through a divorce. This man, his wife, and three kids lived in a beautiful home here on the north side of Houston. While the divorce was ongoing, we attended a mediation session where the subject of the family home came up. Namely: who was going to be able to stay in the house during the divorce?
Our client made a perfect living, and his wife was a stay-at-home mom. She initially indicated that she wanted to remain in the home during the divorce because she would be the primary conservator of the children. This made a ton of sense on many levels. We even told our client as much. However, it became apparent that he wanted to remain in the house, as well. He used the reasoning that he wanted his kids to spend time with him in the place where they had grown up. Deep down, he didnt want to have to move because he wasnt a huge fan of change.
How was this issue solved? Well, our client agrees to pay a hefty sum of temporary spousal support to his wife for the privilege of remaining in the family home during the divorce. From his wifes perspective, she was getting enough money to pay rent on a house for her to live in after the divorce with the kids. From his perspective, he got the stability that he was craving- at a price.
Is Spousal Support Taxed
Until recently, spousal support payments were usually considered taxable income to the person that is receiving these payments. For the person that is paying the support, the payments were generally considered deductible.
However, this all changed with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The way that spousal maintenance was taxed was significantly impacted by this, which went into effect on January 1, 2019.
Any maintenance agreements or orders that were finalized on or after this date arent considered income for the receiving spouse. At the same time, the paying spouse cannot deduct the payments from their income.
As you might imagine, this creates quite a bit of confusion for both parties involved. It might be a good idea to meet with an experienced tax attorney in order to make sure that you are dealing with spousal support payments in a way that is following the current tax laws.
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How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated In Texas
Texas has harsher restrictions on spousal maintenance than many states, making it more difficult for individuals to seek alimony from their soon-to-be-ex.
When a court presides over a divorce-related process like child custody, spousal and child support, etc., the judge tries to ensure that all parties maintain a good quality of life after the divorce. To than end, spousal maintenance may help a party remain financially stable post-divorce.
Courts provide spousal support when the judge determines an individual is unable to provide for their basic needs without financial assistance from their spouse.
Spouses seeking support must typically meet one of four requirements to obtain alimony. They must prove that:
- Their spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense, like child neglect or domestic abuse, within two years of filing for divorce.
- The marriage was at least ten years long, they cannot provide for their basic needs,and they are either disabled, the primary caretaker of a disabled child, or lack the earning potential to acquire economic stability.
- Both spouses agree that alimony is fair given the circumstances of the divorce or marriage.
- One of the spouses is an immigrant, and the court awards them an Affidavit of Support .
To that end, while most family courts in Texas are strict about administering spousal maintenance, judges do have a fair amount of leeway in alimony cases.
Are You Getting Divorced In Texas
If youre getting divorced in Texas, you might be overwhelmed by the complexity of the legal process. Of course, on top of that, getting divorced is probably also taxing both financially and emotionally. We believe that one of the best ways to get through a divorce in one piece is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, as it can help to reduce stress and allow you to create a map of how the process will unfold.
At TexasDivorceLaws.org, we are committed to offering a library of resources to the people of Texas to help outline the most important aspects of Texas Family Law. If youre looking for more information about divorce, marriage, and prenups, be sure to check out our vast selection of Texas Family Law articles.
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Two: How Much Will You Have To Pay In Spousal Support In Texas
Just because a spouse is eligible to receive post-divorce support does not mean she will actually receive it.
Once eligibility is established, the divorce court is charged with looking at a variety of factors to determine whether an actual award of spousal maintenance is appropriate.
These factors include educational background, duration of the marriage, age of the requesting spouse, employment history, infidelity, contributions to the family as a homemaker, efforts to find employment, etc.
After careful consideration of the relevant factors, the court has the power to rule that the requesting spouse receives no support, the maximum support allowed, or something in between.
The court is also limited on how much money may be awarded on a monthly basis. A court awarding post-divorce spousal maintenance may only order monthly payments up to the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouses average monthly gross income.
Who Is Eligible For Spousal Support In Texas
Texas has a reputation for being one of the most challenging places to get spousal support, or alimony, as itâs also known. Texas state laws begin with the premise that no alimony is payable after a divorce. To qualify, a spouse must meet several specific conditions before the judge even considers awarding alimony – and even then, thereâs no guarantee that itâll be granted.Spouses who go into a divorce court in Texas expecting substantial, life-long alimony payments are in for a big shock. You may be due a certain amount, but itâll be capped in most cases and limited by time. Alimony is a complicated area, and as with so many aspects of divorce law, it can often be difficult to make sense of it all.
For that reason, this helpful guide explains both sides of the alimony equation. Explore Texas state laws on alimony, who qualifies, who has to pay, how the courts uphold the laws, and the best way to work your way through the process.
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Reasons For Spousal Support
Texas courts will order spousal maintenance when:
- The marriage lasted longer than 10 years and the spouse who has requested support does not have the means to be financially independent after divorce.
- The spouse who will pay support received deferment or conviction for a domestic violence charge against the requesting spouse or his or her child within the past two years.
- The spouses agreed on a fair maintenance arrangement, either as part of the divorce agreement or previously in a prenuptial agreement.
- The spouse requesting support is an immigrant who has sponsorship from the other spouse with a valid Affidavit of Support.
Spousal Support In Texas: What You Should Know
Spousal support, more commonly known as alimony, is paid by one former spouse to the other to help support their ex-partner financially. Spousal support is completely separate from child support and can be paid whether or not there are children involved in the divorce. While some people may think alimony is a relic from another time, it may still be paid depending on the circumstances of a divorce. There are many things couples should be aware of regarding spousal support in Texas, including the following:
1. There Is a Presumption Against Spousal Support.
In Texas, family courts presume spousal support will not be provided unless one of the parties involved in a divorce seeks financial support and can demonstrate that it is necessary. This means the courts will not award spousal support without it being requested and proved up. A party seeking spousal support must make their case to the court to show they require this type of financial assistance. That party, unless disabled or unless family violence is involved, will also have to show the court that they are trying to obtain consistent employment and that the spousal support will be temporary.
2. What Qualifies a Former Spouse for Spousal Support?
3. What Types of Spousal Support Exist?
4. What Is the Maximum Amount of Spousal Support?
5. How Long Does an Ex-Spouse Have to Pay Spousal Support?
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What Is A Just And Right Division Of Community Property In Texas
When the marriage comes to an end, all assets properly classified as community property are subject to just and right division between the spouses. Texas courts have held that a just and right division of community assets is not necessarily 50/50. Rather than automatically divide everything in half, Texas courts will consider various factors.
Understanding Alimony In Texas
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is similar to other divorce-related processes like property division or child support in that the outcome of your alimony case could significantly impact your financial stability.
The economic impact of alimony cases and stigma surrounding the alimony process often make it one of the most contentious parts of adivorce. Whether you’re the payor or recipient in your case, understanding how Texas deals with spousal maintenance can help you develop an equitable alimony arrangement with your soon-to-be-ex.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our Austin alimony lawyers have the experience to help you navigate your spousal maintenance case with confidence. To learn more,contact us online or via phone at.
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Each Partys Education And Earning Capacity
Texas courts will consider education and earning capacity with respect to evaluating the parties respective earning potential and employability. When one spouse has a professional degree, and the other is a homemaker with a high school diploma, courts may structure the property division to compensate for the discrepancy in earning potentials.
How Much Spousal Maintenance Can I Receive In Texas
Texas law limits how much support a court can order, which is actually fairly unique compared to other U.S. states. Awards for spousal maintenance must not be more than 20% of the spouses average monthly gross income or $5000 per month, whichever is less.
Judges will frequently order spousal maintenance in periodic payments. This commonly results in monthly payments.
Courts will sometimes issue an order to withhold income from the supporting spouse. In these instances, the employer of the paying spouse has to deduct maintenance payments directly from their paycheck and have it forwarded to the court agency.
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Texas Divorce : Alimony Vs Spousal Maintenance
When facing a divorce in Texas, a common question is whether or not a spouse can be awarded alimony. The term alimony is often confused with spousal maintenance or support. While alimony is not specifically provided for under Texas law as an entitlement, it is still a possibility by agreement. Although, the Texas Family Code provides eligibility for spousal maintenance in certain situations, which has specific requirements and is a different construct than alimony. This article is aimed at educating you on the basics of alimony and spousal maintenance in Texas and pointing out the distinctions between the two.
Spousal Support: Three Types For Divorcing Texans
In television and movies, we hear about a concept called alimony. Usually, you hear about it in situations where wealthy and successful people are going through a divorce, and the super-rich husband is forced to pay his only moderately prosperous wife a certain sum of money to keep her happy and prevent a possibly worse outcome in a divorce trial. While there is some accuracy in negotiating a settlement to avoid seeing the judge, the rest of this situation is just made for good entertainment, not based on reality.
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Contact A Waco Texas Divorce Attorney Today
If you have questions about seeking or paying alimony in a Texas divorce, one of our experienced divorce attorneys can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Simer & Tetens to get started or for more information about the services we provide to clients in Waco and throughout Texas on family law matters.
We offer free initial consultations.
What Factors Impact Court
The professional dynamic that exists between a couple is always different, and those differences can even be greater when the responsibilities of child-raising are involved. Consider this scenario.
The spouses married shortly after college. One was in business, the other an architect. Both were poised for successful careers in fields where they would be well-compensated. They also wanted a family, and it was determined that the architect would scale back their work and spend more time at home after kids started coming. It was also determined that the spouse in business would go for the MBA.
Over the next 15 years, they had three children. The spouse working full-time did indeed get their MBA and turned it into a lucrative job. The other spouse continued to do freelance architectural design. It was fulfilling, but a sidebar to what their main job had becomemaking sure the kids got to school, did their homework, and made it to all their extracurricular activities.
In a divorce settlement, the spouse who mostly was at home will have two strong arguments on their behalf for maintenance.
First off, Texas courts will see the couple as a single entity, with the tasks of earning income and raising children all lumped together. The person who did the latter should not be penalized for taking on that role. A family court will seek to make this spouse financially whole, to the greatest degree possible.
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