Understanding How Spousal Support Is Calculated in Texas

Spousal support is designed to protect a spouse who earns less or is a stay-at-home parent from being harmed financially by divorce. It helps them meet their basic needs as they develop the job skills needed to support themselves and contribute to the support of their children.

At one time, spousal support applicants were exclusively women. Now, with careers being the norm for both spouses and more men becoming stay-at-home parents, support is available to those who qualify regardless of gender.

In Texas, there are two types of spousal maintenance: temporary, which is an interim form of support while the divorce is pending, and ongoing, which is paid for a set period of time after the divorce is final.

Establishing Spousal Maintenance After Divorce

Spousal maintenance is not an automatic right in Texas. In September 2011 the eligibility rules changed, and any spouse seeking maintenance must prove that after all community assets and liabilities are divided, they will not have enough property to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Then they must prove at least one of the following:

  • The couple was married for at least ten years and the requesting spouse made a diligent effort to earn enough money or develop the skills need to be self-sufficient while the divorce was pending OR
  • The requesting spouse has a disability that arose during the marriage and is now incapacitated OR
  • Any of the couple’s children has a mental or physical disability that prevents the requesting spouse from working full-time OR
  • The other spouse has committed family violence

Calculating Spousal Maintenance

In Texas, there is a statutory cap on court-ordered spousal maintenance, which is the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. When determining how much to award and for what duration, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Each party’s ability to provide for the requesting spouse’s minimum reasonable needs
  • Each spouse’s education and employment skills, plus the time necessary for the requesting spouse to acquire the training or education to become self-sufficient
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The requesting spouse’s age, earning ability, employment history, and physical and mental health
  • What effect the support will have on each spouse’s ability to meet the requester’s minimum needs while paying child support (if applicable)
  • Whether either spouse behaved in ways that damaged, diminished or concealed community property
  • Whether one spouse contributed to the training, education, or increased earning ability of the other
  • Any property brought into the marriage by either party
  • Whether either spouse was a homemaker
  • Acts of adultery, cruelty, and other forms of marital misconduct by either spouse
  • Acts of family violence by either spouse

Texas law also mandates the maximum duration of spousal support. It starts at five years if the couple was married between 10 and 20 years, followed by seven years for marriages between 20 and 30 years, and finally 10 years for marriages that lasted 30 years or more. In addition:

  • With marriages under 10 years, support may be paid for up to five years if there was a family violence conviction
  • If the requesting spouse has an incapacitating mental or physical disability, they may receive support for as long as their disability lasts
  • Maintenance can be terminated if the recipient lives with another person in the manner of a married couple on an ongoing basis

If you are facing divorce and concerned about how you will manage financially, an experienced Texas family law attorney can advise you on your eligibility for temporary and ongoing spousal maintenance. At Branch Family Law we will advise you on how Texas law will likely be applied to your situation. For more information please contact us online or call 210-229-1039.

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Branch Law Firm

Family matters are emotionally and legally complex. Branch Law Firm guides the way to smart solutions that preserve your family and protect your financial interests. Our boutique law firm welcomes tough cases, including high-asset divorce and high-conflict custody disputes. With nearly 20 of experience in Texas family law, founding attorney Crista Marichalar Branch leads a skilled and compassionate team.

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