Spousal maintenance is an award of monthly payments from one spouse to the other to provide financial assistance for a period of time after the marriage has ended. The court has discretion in determining whether an award of spousal maintenance is appropriate, the amount of maintenance to be paid and the duration of the payments.
How Do You Qualify?
In Texas, the court must determine that the spouse requesting spousal maintenance will lack sufficient property upon divorce to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. Minimum reasonable needs are determined on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, the requesting spouse must provide one of the following:
- The spouses were married minimally 10 years and the requesting spouse does not have the ability to earn sufficient income to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs.
- The requesting spouse is the parent primarily caring for a disabled child and that care limits the requesting spouse’s ability to earn sufficient income to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs.
- The requesting spouse has suffered an incapacitating disability which occurred during the marriage and due to the disability cannot earn sufficient income.
- The paying spouse has either been convicted or received deferred adjudication for committing an act of family violence within two years before the date the divorce is filed or while the case is pending.
What Is the Duration?
If the court finds that you qualify for spousal maintenance, then it has discretion to order payments for the following durations:
- 10 to 20 Year Marriage: Up to five years.
- 20 to 30 Year Marriage: Up to seven years.
- 30+ Year Marriage: Up to 10 years.
- Victim of Family Violence: Up to five years.
- Disability: As long as the disability exists (no time limit).
How Is It Calculated?
The court has discretion in determining what amount of maintenance is needed for the requesting spouse to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs. The court may not order the paying spouse to pay more than $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly gross income, whichever is less.
There is a presumption in the law that an asset acquired during the marriage is owned by the community. This presumption may be overcome by specific rules. Assets that are not community are the separate assets of a spouse. The separate assets of a spouse are “confirmed” as that spouse’s separate property in the Final Decree of Divorce.
Our firm’s background in economics and working closely with real estate appraisers, business appraisers and forensic accountants allow us to provide the necessary guidance to clients.