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Houston Spousal Support Attorney Explains Texas Maintenance Laws
Many people living in Texas come from states that are not community property states. In these stats, the Courts hand out alimony rather freely. However, in non-community property states, a person is generally not entitled to much or any of their spouse’s property acquired during the marriage. Texas is just the opposite: Texas views marriage as a partnership. Thus, everything earned during marriage is community property. Since Texas is a community property state, Court ordered maintenance is subject to a number of limitations. Thus, Courts do not freely award it.
Alimony laws in Texas are complex in nature. Because of this, we recommend talking to a divorce lawyer. He or she can assist whether you are seeking spousal support in your divorce or your spouse is demanding it.
What are the Alimony Laws in Texas?
In 2012, Texas law regarding spousal support (also called maintenance or alimony) changed drastically. Texas has “rehabilitation alimony,” also called Court ordered maintenance. Individuals considering divorce or who have recently initiated divorce proceedings should be aware of this law change.
There are two main eligibility requirements to receive maintenance or alimony in Texas:
- First, the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
- Second, in most divorces, the parties have been married to each other for 10 years or longer and the spouse seeking support lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
Texas law has certain provisions for:
- Spouses who have been the victim of domestic violence and whose abusive spouses have been successfully prosecuted, or
- Parents who are the custodians of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents a spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
How Does the Court Decide Alimony?
The Courts limit alimony to the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the obligor’s average monthly gross income. A spouse seeking maintenance or alimony must show that he or she has made a diligent effort to either earn enough income to take care of his or her minimum reasonable needs or to develop the necessary skills to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. The family court has a duty to limit the duration of the maintenance or alimony to the shortest reasonable period. Once alimony or maintenance begins, the court can alter it in the future.
What Factors Influence the Court’s Decision on Spousal Maintenance?
Texas courts may consider any of a number of factors in determining spousal maintenance or alimony, including:
- The education of the parties
- The employment skills of the parties
- The time necessary to obtain education and training to earn income
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance or alimony
- The acts of either spouse in excessive or abnormal spending, or fraudulent disposition of property
- The property brought into the marriage
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
- The marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment by either spouse
- Several other miscellaneous factors
What Are the Limits on Spousal Maintenance?
Generally, alimony is limited to three years. However, maintenance or alimony can be limited to a maximum of:
- 5 years if the spouses were married for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years
- 7 years if the parties were married for at least 20 years but less than 30 years
- 10 years if the spouses were married more than 30 years
If you think that you may be a candidate for alimony, then remember the purpose is to rehabilitate the recipient so that person can re-enter the job market. Therefore, alimony is often limited to the shortest period possible for the recipient to get established in the job market.
Find an Alimony Attorney in Houston
Please contact our Houston spousal support attorney today to discuss your options. We can discuss seeking alimony, how to deal with a spouse demanding it or alimony enforcement in Texas.