I Know Your Rights Regarding Spousal Maintenance

Alimony, which is also called spousal maintenance, made sense in a bygone era when many women remained at home to care for children and run the household. Today, however, most women work outside of the home in well-established careers.

Texas laws, which already have long been conservative in regard to awarding spousal maintenance, have been amended even further in recent years to reflect the fact that many women are more than capable of earning enough to support themselves.

In 2011, lawmakers passed a bill that creates a "rebuttable presumption" that spousal maintenance is unnecessary. In other words, a spouse seeking maintenance must show lack of sufficient assets to provide for minimum reasonable needs.

Protecting Your Interests In Alimony Matters

Although Texas laws mostly serve to minimize the amount of spousal maintenance awarded and the length of time it must be paid, it is important to enlist the services of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney who will protect your interests. At the Law Office of Brian Turner in Bryan, I help men in divorce resolve spousal maintenance issues efficiently and protect their interests at every turn.

In order to receive maintenance in Texas, a spouse must be able to show the court there are not enough assets to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs. In addition, the spouse must show that the marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years and at least one of the following:

  • He or she is unable to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability.
  • He or she was a victim of domestic violence within two years of the filing date for divorce or while the divorce is pending.
  • He or she cares for a child of the marriage who is disabled, which prevents the spouse from earning enough income to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs.

How Much And For How Long?

Texas laws cap spousal maintenance the lesser of 20 percent of the payer's average gross monthly income or various set amounts depending on the duration of the marriage. Texas courts limit maintenance durations to the shortest reasonable time to allow a receiving spouse to earn enough money to meet minimum reasonable needs. Here again, exceptions can be made if the spouse has a disability or is caring for a child with a disability.

Texas statutes also limit the duration of spousal maintenance based upon the length of the marriage. Maintenance duration can be:

  • No more than five years for a marriage that lasted between 10 and 20 years
  • No more than seven years for a marriage that lasted between 20 and 30 years
  • No more than 10 years for a marriage that lasted 30 years or more

Contractual Maintenance

Rather than go through the courts, your spouse may seek contractual maintenance, which is a voluntary agreement between the two parties. There are no legal eligibility requirements or restrictions in contractual maintenance agreements. It provides a means for a spouse to receive an agreed-upon amount for a certain length of time in order to help pay for housing, educational expenses and other costs while working toward becoming fully self-sustaining. Both court-ordered maintenance and contractual maintenance are pre-tax, while child support is post-tax.

Solutions Tailored To Your Needs

The important thing when enlisting the help of a lawyer on any family law matter is to find one who will listen to your goals, help you set realistic objectives and develop a legal strategy that aims to achieve them. I am ready to do all of that and more for you. Call our Bryan office at 979-583-9200 or use the online contact form on this website.