Lara Bracamonte Davila

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Spousal maintenance in Texas

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Family Law

While many couples rely on income from both spouses to support their families financially, some couples choose to primarily rely on one spouse’s income. However, if the couple chooses to get a divorce, the higher-earning spouse may have an easier time maintaining the lifestyle the couple had during the marriage. The lesser-earning spouse may not be able to continue this lifestyle with just their income.

This is especially true for people who have been stay-at-home parents and have not worked in their career field for many years. Fortunately, spousal maintenance or spousal support may be an option.

Contractual alimony and court-awarded spousal maintenance

If spousal support is awarded, the payer (higher-earning) spouse will pay a pre-determined amount of money to their ex for a certain amount of time. A payee spouse can receive support if the parties have entered into an agreement to pay contractual alimony.

If the parties do not have an agreement, in Texas, the payee spouse may receive court-ordered support. Courts may award spousal maintenance if the payee spouse can prove that even after property division, they cannot meet their reasonable needs and one of the following is determined to be true:

  • The payee spouse cannot earn enough to provide for themselves due to disability.
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years, the payee spouse cannot earn enough to support their basic needs, and the payee spouse has attempted to earn more money/acquire skills during the divorce in an effort to support themselves.
  • The payee spouse has custody of the couple’s child who has a disability that requires substantial care that keeps the payee spouse from earning enough to support their basic needs.
  • The payer spouse committed domestic violence towards the payee spouse within two years.

If the above is established, a family law court may award spousal support based on several factors including income levels, contributions made during the marriage, and earning ability of the payee spouse.