FAQs About Spousal Support
Many spouses support their co-spouse in non-financial ways – such as taking care of the children and being a homemaker. Some spouses may sacrifice their career in order to support the other spouse. In longer marriages, Texas does permit alimony. Texas, however, uses the term “spousal maintenance” and not alimony.
This article answers a few common questions about spousal maintenance. To learn more about whether you can ask for spousal maintenance (or be ordered to pay spousal support), please contact us. At Lyttle Law Firm PLLC, our caring family lawyers explain your rights and pursue those rights and all other divorce rights.Can I Receive Alimony or Spousal Support?
Texas provides for spousal maintenance if certain conditions are met. Texas doesn’t use the term alimony.What do You Need to Show in Order to Obtain a Spousal Maintenance Award?
If you are seeking alimony, you’ll need to show that you - lack sufficient property, including your separate property, when the marriage ends – to provide for your minimum reasonable needs. Generally, you must show that:
Your spouse was convicted of (or received a deferred adjudication) for a criminal offense that involved family violence - and other conditions are met.
You are unable to earn enough to provide for your minimum needs – due to:
- An incapacitating physical or mental disability
- You were married for 10 years or more and can’t earn a sufficient income to provide for your needs
- You’re the custodian of a child with special needs that you need to provide for.
Sec. 8.052. of the Texas Family Code provides that judges will consider the following factors if you qualify for spousal maintenance. The judge uses these factors to determine the amount, duration, nature, and manner of periodic payments.
- The ability of each spouse to provide for their minimal needs – considering each spouse’s financial resources when the marriage ends
- The education and employment skills of each spouse. This includes the time needed to obtain adequate education and training so the spouse can support himself/herself. The availability and feasibility of that education or training is also considered.
- How long you were married.
- The age, work history, earning ability, and physical/emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the paying spouse to also pay periodic child support.
- Any financial mismanagement or fraud or concealment of assets.
- How much, if any, a spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, and financial earning power.
- The property the spouses brought to the marriage.
- A spouse’s contribution as a homemaker.
- Any marital misconduct such as adultery or cruel treatment.
- A history or pattern of family violence.
You and your spouse can agree on your own, with the help of experienced family law counsel, how much support you’ll receive or owe.
Monthly payments are generally limited to the lesser of:
- 20% of the income of the paying spouse
Good news. Texas does provide that you can receive temporary spousal support during a divorce proceeding. This may be done to ensure that the wealthier spouse doesn’t force the other spouse to make a bad settlement because they desperately need the money.
The spouses can also agree on their own to a temporary spousal support arrangement.How is the Duration of Spousal Support Determined?
An award of spousal support doesn’t last forever. The Texas Family Code provides (except for rare cases when the court may order a longer payment schedule) that:
The spousal maintenance order should not be for more than five years from the date of the order if:
- The spouses were married for less than 10 years and the paying spouse committed an act of family violence
- The spouses were married for between 10 and 20 years
The spousal maintenance award should not be for more than seven years if the spouses were married for between 20 and 30 years
The award should not be for more than 10 years if the spouses were married for 30 years or more
Other duration conditions may also apply which an experienced Texas family lawyer can explain.
An order of spousal support terminates if the spouse receiving payments remarries, lives with a romantic partner, or dies.Can I Continue on My Spouse’s Employer’s Health Insurance After the Divorce is Granted?
The laws on health insurance are being challenged and changing. Currently, spouses can take advantage of a federal law enacted called COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985). The law was enacted to help people continue group health benefits when life changes, such as divorce, occur.
If you are a former spouse who was on your spouse’s work insurance policy (and your spouse worked for an employer who had 20 or more employees), you can keep the health insurance you had through that employer. There are several conditions:
- The employer must make the insurance available to former spouses for three years.
- You do need to pay the premiums – but the amount can’t be more than two percent greater than what employees pay.
- You need to contact your ex-spouse’s employer to obtain the necessary forms.
- You must file your application for insurance within 60 days from the date of your divorce decree.
It’s best to work with a family lawyer who will help you comply with all the conditions on time.Does My Spousal Maintenance Award end if I Remarry?
Yes. Once you remarry, you’re NOT entitled to spousal support from your former spouse.Can I Seek to Modify the Spousal Maintenance Order?
You can usually request a modification if there are major life changes involving either you or your former spouse. Common changes that could justify a modification include:
- The loss of a job by either spouse
- A new job or a job promotion by either spouse
- Increased income from a business or job for any reason
- A spouse develops a disability
Modifications are usually based on an increase or decrease in income. Courts are less inclined to review changes in expenses.
A spousal maintenance order ends if the spouse receiving payments remarries or begins living with a romantic partner. Evidence of the romantic relationship must be established.
Understand how Spousal Maintenance Works in Texas
It’s not easy to start over if you’ve been married for a long time. Our experienced family lawyers help by arguing all the factors that justify (or don’t justify) an award of spousal maintenance. At Lyttle Law Firm, our Austin and San Marcos family lawyers help spouses obtain financial support from their co-spouse for residents of Travis, Hays, Comal, Williamson, Bell, Caldwell, Burnett, Llano, and Guadalupe Counties. Call us at 512.215.5225 or use our online form to make an appointment.