What Happens With Health Insurance During And After Divorce
In a majority of marriages in Texas, one spouse is usually covered under the other spouses health insurance plan. However, when you get a divorce, that coverage usually will end. While a divorce is pending, judges will usually issue a temporary order that will prevent one spouse from removing or changing their health insurance as it relates to the other spouse.
If you are the spouse who will be losing health insurance coverage, then you should disclose the cost of what a plan will be for you so that they may be figured into any spousal support ruling. Health insurance costs also need to be figured in for any child support issues as well.
You may be able to continue health insurance through your ex-spouses plan as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as COBRA, but if this is the case, you will be required to pay the premiums that were formerly paid by the spouse and the employer. If your spouse keeps working for the employer and they have at least 20 employees, then you can stay on COBRA for up to 36 months maximum.
Understanding Spousal Support & Spousal Maintenance
You can reach your divorce settlement in one of two ways. The hope is that an agreement will be negotiated with your spouse, either directly or with the benefit of a third-party mediator. When that happens, the payments are termed spousal support.
If negotiation and mediation does not work, a Texas family law judge will have to settle the disputed issues. In this case, payments made to an ex-spouse are considered spousal maintenance.
Spouses are given wide latitude in what they might negotiate between themselves. For our purposes here though, well consider what factors a judge will look at in deciding on whether to award spousal maintenance and if so, for how much. The reason is that knowing what may or may not be done in court can put a spouse and their attorney in a better position to negotiate favorable terms privately.
Please note thatspousal maintenanceandchild supportarenotthe same thing. Parents are obligated to support their children. The financial terms of this obligation are set up separately. Spousal maintenance is directed, as the term indicates, to the spouse themselves.
Types Of Spousal Maintenance In Texas
Spousal support is voluntary and a condition the divorced spouses agreed to in their settlement. Spousal support can be enforced like a contract. Spousal maintenance is determined by a family court judge and is enforceable as a court order.
There are strict eligibility requirements for spousal maintenance and how much can be awarded, although maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis.
There are four types of spousal maintenance in Texas:
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Who Is Entitled To Spousal Support
The short answer is that it depends on the length of the marriage, the parties financial situation, and whether or not a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place promising support payments. Texas Family Code Section 8.051 governs eligibility for spousal maintenance. Basically, it specifies that the spouse seeking alimony must not have enough of their own property and/or funds to provide for their basic needs, and he or she must also meet one of the following:
- The spouse was married to the other spouse for a minimum of 10 years, and
- The spouse does not have the ability to earn enough money to meet their minimum reasonable needs, or
- The spouse seeking support has a disability that prevents earning enough to support themselves, or
- The spouse seeking maintenance has custody of a child from the marriage and the child has substantial care and supervision needs due to a disability. Note: In such cases, the childs disability prevents the spouse with custody from earning enough money to fulfill basic needs.
Alternatively, spousal support may be awarded if a spouse has been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for family violence within two years of the filing of the divorce action
The Duration Of Spousal Support
The court has some strict guidelines to follow when deciding on the duration of the spousal maintenance. According toTexas law, the court must order the shortest duration necessary for the dependent spouse to become self-supporting.
The conditions for establishing the duration of the spousal support are as follows:
- Five years, if the spouses:
- Were married for less than ten years and the supporting spouse was convicted of family violence
- Were married less than 20 but more than ten years
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How Do I Get Spousal Maintenance
A court may order maintenance for either spouse only if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including the spouses separate property, on divorce to provide for the spouses minimum reasonable needs and:
the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouses child and the offense occurred:
within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed or
while the suit is pending or
the spouse seeking maintenance:
is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouses minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability
has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouses minimum reasonable needs or
is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age 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 spouses minimum reasonable needs.
How An Experienced Family Attorney Can Help You Navigate Support Issues
Navigating your way through divorce law can be every bit as demanding as the divorce itself. Given the high stakes and high emotions, it can also be challenging to think straight at times. Thatâs why most couples going through a divorce opt to hire experienced family attorneys. That way, they can protect their interests, avoid making any expensive mistakes, and secure the best possible settlement.
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Alimony & Spousal Support In Texas
The idea of spousal maintenance usually raises an eyebrow among many men going through divorce. This article is intended to alleviate some of the anxiety that can be created regarding the potential of paying spousal maintenance.
Almost every man facing divorce in Texas has asked his divorce lawyer Will I have to pay spousal support after the divorce is final?
Financial Disclosure Obligation In Texas
Texas laws stipulate that spouses must disclose to each other the type and amount of all community and separate assets and debts when spousal support is being sought. This is so the courts can accurately determine if support is warranted or not. When there is no request for support, the spouses may not need to disclose financial information, as long as they or their lawyers can work out a fair and equitable division of assets and any child support issues.
When a spouse does not accurately disclose this information, or if they refuse to exchange it with their spouse, the court may order the spouse to do so, and also make them pay any associated attorneys fees.
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How Long Does Alimony Last In Texas
While some states may allow for indefinite alimony payments, Texas places strict limits on the lengths of time and the situations that one spouse will be required to pay the other. The length of time allotted for alimony payments is based on the length of the marriage itself. The maximum amount of time that judges will consider is ten years.
Consider this time table when thinking about your own situation regarding alimony:
- Five years only if the marriage lasted less than ten years and the court ordered alimony because the paying spouse executed an act of family violence, like domestic or child abuse
- Five years if the marriage lasted between ten and 20 years in length
- Seven years if the marriage had a duration of 20 to 30 years
- Ten years if the marriage lasted for 30 or more years
- Regardless of the circumstances, the court MUST limit the order to the shortest time in which the spouse can reasonably earn enough income to meet basic living needs, unless the spouse is unable to do so thanks to a physical or mental disability. Other reasons include the duties associated with taking care of an infant or young child of the marriage, or because the spouse cannot otherwise be self-sufficient.
Your alimony payments can end before the termination date if:
Common Questions We Get About Texas Alimony
When is Texas alimony awarded, and how long does it last?
How much should a spouse expect to pay in alimony or maintenance, and how much should a spouse expect to receive?
How do TX alimony laws affect paying spouses differently than receiving spouses?
All of these inquiries are common in Texas divorce cases, and we want to provide you with more information about alimony in Texas.
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Factors For Determining The Amount And Duration Of Alimony In Texas
Once a Texas court determines that a spouse is eligible to receive alimony, the court will examine many factors to determine the appropriate nature, amount and duration of alimony.
Those statutory factors include the following:
- Spouses ability to provide for minimum reasonable needs independently, considering the spouses financial resources at the time of divorce
- Employment and education skills of the spouses
- Time necessary for the spouse seeking compensation to acquire sufficient education or training to be able to meet his or her own minimum reasonable needs
- Length of the marriage
- Age of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Employment history and earning ability of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Emotional and physical condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Impact of child support on a spouses ability to pay maintenance
- Either spouses excessive or abnormal spending, or hiding of marital property in the divorce
- Contributions spouse seeking alimony has made to the other spouses education, training, or increased earning power
- Property that either spouse brought to the marriage
- Contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
- Any past family violence.
A Guide To Texas Divorce Laws
A series of laws govern marriage and divorce in Texas and if you are facing the possibility of divorce, it is important that you have a basic understanding of what these laws are and how they will impact you.
The most important thing to know is that Texas is a community property state. This means all property acquired during a marriage is owned equally by both spouses, with a few exceptions.
Texas is also a no-fault state, meaning that no specific reason needs to be stated for why the marriage is ending, only that it is irretrievably broken with no hope of being fixed. However, spouses may choose one of seven reasons as grounds for divorce if they want to state a fault instead.
Both spouses do not need to agree to end the marriage. One spouse can initiate the action, and the other spouse or partner cant stop the process even if they want to remain married.
These laws will guide important decisions regarding the division of assets, child custody, child support and alimony and other key elements of a divorce.
Here are some of the most common legal questions and major issues you should know about that come up during a divorce in Texas:
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Experienced Spousal Support Lawyers In Houston
Spousal maintenance is the technical term used for alimony or spousal support in Texas.
Texas law is designed for alimony to be short-term, with the length of the marriage playing a large role in the spouses qualifying for support.
Alimony in Texas has expanded in scope over the past several years in terms of who qualifies to receive it and for how much time.
As this is an evolving area of Texas law, hiring a Houston alimony lawyer can be a wise decision.
The categories of individuals who potentially fall under the umbrella of alimony in Texas include spouses who stay at home, spouses married for more than 10 years, those who have obligations to care for disabled children, spouses with disabilities, and victims of family violence.
If you want legal assistance in dealing with your spouse and alimony, you need effective representation from experienced litigators.
Contact the qualified Houston alimony lawyers at The Larson Office today for your complimentary case review by calling or filling out our short form.
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An Explanation Of The Two Types Of Post Divorce Spousal Support
in Texas, there are two types of post-divorce spousal support: contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. We have already talked about these two concepts generally in today’s blog post, but I would like to take some time to talk with you about what they are and what they represent on a real-world level. There are major differences between the two of them, including how you can get them, how long they can be paid for, and how much they can be paid for. Even getting a court to enforce an order in the future can change depending on what type of award you are ordered to receive or pay.
A court will order spousal maintenance to be paid as the result of a trial. With that said, the odds are good that the ordered payments will be against your will and that you will be told to Pay spousal maintenance as a result of a contested trial. On the other hand, contractual alimony is spousal support you and your spouse would agree to pay in mediation or informal settlement negotiations. The odds are that once you get to the mediation stage of your case, you will want to know what you could be in line to pay as far as contractual alimony versus what you may be ordered to pay in spousal maintenance.
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Division Of Assets In Texas
As a community property state, the courts will divide marital assets in way that is considered just and right taking into consideration the rights of each spouse and any children in the marriage.
Community property is any property that is acquired during a marriage. Separate property is that which is acquired either before or after a marriage, with some notable exceptions. Property during a marriage that was acquired through an inheritance, as a gift or as a personal injury settlement for one spouse may also be considered separate property as well.
Things can become a bit muddled when separate assets are commingled with community property assets. For example, inherited money that is deposited in a joint account may actually become community property. A gift that is used by both spouses may also run the risk of becoming community property as well.
Things are not always split 50-50 right down the middle. This is where many disagreements can and do take place. Oftentimes, lawyers must be retained to negotiate a reasonable settlement among the parties.
Texas Is Arguably The Hardest State In Which To Get Alimony In Divorce
While eligibility for spousal support is narrow and duration and amount restricted, marital misconduct may be taken into account in setting the award.
Spousal maintenance, traditionally called alimony, is the payment of monetary support from one ex-spouse to the other, and in Texas, as compared with most other states, the law severely restricts who is eligible for spousal maintenance after divorce.
Although court-ordered alimony is difficult to get in Texas, the parties to a divorce may negotiate a contract for the payment of alimony that contains terms more generous than a judge could order under the law. Because of the narrow grounds for spousal maintenance in the divorce law, negotiation of alimony as a contractual obligation can become an important consideration between divorcing spouses in Texas.
However, if the issue ends up before a court in a divorce proceeding, the court does not have nearly as much discretion as courts in many other states do to craft alimony awards. To be eligible to receive spousal maintenance in Texas, the spouse seeking maintenance must show that he or she will not have sufficient property after divorce to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. If he or she will have sufficient property to pay or his or her minimum reasonable needs, he or she is not eligible for spousal maintenance.
If minimum reasonable needs cannot be met independently by the spouse seeking maintenance, one of these must also be true:
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