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Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in Houston, TX

Let an Experienced Family Law Attorney Help You. (713) 781-7775.

Did you know spouses that have served as stay-at-home parents are often time entitled to monthly payments from the other spouse after a divorce?  Contact Mr. Rudisel, your Houston divorce lawyer, today for a complimentary consultation so you can better understand the divorce process in Texas and your rights.  Below is a summary of alimony and spousal maintenance.

Divorce in Texas, an Overview by Shaun Rudisel

What is the Difference between Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in Texas?

Alimony is a generic term often used in Texas divorces used to define different types of post-divorce payments made by one spouse to another after a divorce. Spousal Maintenance is the only type of post-divorce payment a court can order in Texas.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines contractual alimonyParties can enter an agreement to pay alimony as defined by federal law but a Texas court cannot order it. Alimony payments are considered income to the receiving party and alimony may be deducted from the income of the paying party for tax purposes. The IRS has very specific guidelines that must be followed to for payments to be considered alimony. The same is not always true of court-ordered Spousal Maintenance.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal Maintenance is the periodic payment of support by one spouse to the other spouse upon divorce.  Spousal maintenance is not deductible for tax purposes and is not considered income to the receiving party. Read our blog article “Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance” for a detailed discussion.

What are the Eligibility Requirements to be Awarded Spousal Maintenance in a Texas Divorce?

A court can order a spouse to pay Spousal Maintenance only if:

  1. The spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient assets upon divorce (property and debt division) to support the spouse; and the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or placed on probation during the marriage or within two years of filing for divorce, for an offense involving family violence which was committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child;
  2. The spouse seeking maintenance:
    • is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s 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 spouse’s 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 spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.

What Factors may the Court consider when Awarding Spousal Maintenance in Texas?

Once a court determines that a spouse is eligible to receive Spousal Maintenance, the court must consider the following factors in determining the amount and duration of support:

(1) each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse’s financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;

(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;

(3) the duration of the marriage;

(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;

(5) the effect on each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;

(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;

(7) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;

(8) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;

(9) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker

(10) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and

(11) any history or pattern of family violence.

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How Long can Court Ordered Spousal Maintenance Last?

 

Generally, the court cannot award support that lasts longer than:

  1. Five Years
    (A) If married less than 10 years and a conviction for family violence; or
    (B) If married between 10 and 20 years
  2. Seven Years

If married more than 20 years but less than 30 years

  1. Ten Years

If married for more than 30 years

  1. Indefinite Duration

The court may order maintenance for a spouse for as long as the spouse continues to be unable to support their self due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
or

That spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage, regardless of age, who requires substantial care and supervision due to a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for their minimum, reasonable needs.

What Amount can the Court Award?

A court can award the lesser of:
(1) $5,000; or
(2) 20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.

When do Spousal Support Payments Terminate?

Payments for Spousal Maintenance terminate upon the following:
(1) the court’s order is fulfilled,
(2) the spouse receiving payment dies or remarries.

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