[Note: In this section, the wife is referred to as the spouse receiving spousal support for convenience only. It should be understood that husbands can also request and receive spousal support from wives.]
Will I Have To Pay My Spouse Spousal Support After the Divorce Is Final?
In Texas, the issue of whether one spouse will have to pay spousal support to the other spouse when a divorce occurs is a big question. Jack Robinson has extensive experience working as a divorce and spousal support attorney in Rockwall Texas and Hunt, Kaufman, Dallas & Collin Counties.
In Texas, determining whether spousal support will be paid requires the answer a couple of questions.
1. Is the spouse eligible for support
While the parties can agree that spousal support will be paid even if the receiving spouse would not be eligible for such an award, a court cannot award it unless the spouse is eligible.
In order to be eligible, the spouse seeking maintenance must lack sufficient property once the divorce is final (including separate property) to provide for that person’s minimum reasonable needs. In addition to making that showing, one of the additional showings are required:
The paying spouse must have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence as defined by Texas law. Additionally, the act of family violence must have been committed either:
a.) During the marriage (but no more than two years before the date the divorce suit was filed); or
b.) While the divorce suit was pending.
The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs and:
a.) Her inability is due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
b.) Her inability is due to her responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability; or
c.) She has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or more.
2. If eligible, how much support and for how long
If eligibility is established, the divorce court is charged with looking at a variety of factors to determine whether an actual award of spousal maintenance (including how much and how long) 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.
If the court decides to award spousal maintenance, the following parameters set the boundaries for how long the award can last.
1. Up to 5 years of post-divorce support. This the applicable cap if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the requesting spouse can show eligibility under#1 above or the marriage lasted at least 10 years but less than 20 years.
2. Up to 7 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted at least 20 years but less than 30 years.
3. Up to 10 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted 30 years or more.
4. For options #2(a) and #2(b) above, the support award can last indefinitely so long as the underlying eligibility criteria continue to exist.
3. Texas Maintenance: How Much Will I Have To Pay?
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 spouse’s average monthly gross income.
Jack Robinson has extensive experience working as a divorce and spousal support attorney in Rockwall Texas and Hunt, Kaufman, Dallas & Collin Counties.
Other helpful family law topics you may find helpful include information on divorce, child custody, child support, and property & debt division issues in divorce
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