Spousal support is an award in a divorce suit of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other. A court may order either spouse to pay, depending on the incomes of both parties. If you are considering a divorce or are already in the process, you should speak to an experienced spousal support lawyer. Whether you expect to recover support or make payments, your attorney could advocate on your behalf.
How Do Courts Calculate Spousal Maintenance?
The duration of spousal support payments is dependent on the length of the marriage. Courts do not order permanent payments. Spousal maintenance is intended to be of limited duration. In a 30-year marriage, the payments may last at most ten years. In shorter marriages, the payments may last five or seven years.
The court is required to limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking support to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her own minimum reasonable needs. The maximum duration of spousal support is five years if the spouses were married to each other for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years. The maximum amount of monthly spousal support allowed under the Texas Family Code is $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever figure is lower. A lawyer could review someone’s divorce case and determine how much spousal support they may be entitled to receive or order to pay.
When is Spousal Support Applicable?
Not every marriage will involve spousal maintenance payments. The court may only grant alimony if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property on dissolution of the marriage to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Additionally, at least one of the following circumstances must apply:
- The spouse seeking maintenance has been married to the other party for at least 10 years and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
Other individual circumstances can impact the decision to order support, include when a spouse suffers from physical or mental disabilities, cares for a disabled child, or if the paying spouse carried out acts of domestic violence within the two years prior to divorce. A lawyer could evaluate the specific facts in a divorce case and determine if one spouse may be eligible for spousal support.
Additional Alimony Considerations
During a divorce, and before the court makes permanent decisions regarding support payments, the judge might enter a temporary support order. These payments could help the receiving spouse until the proceedings are complete.
Additionally, in some instances, a court may permit the paying spouse to cease payments before the period of support ends. This situation is possible when the receiving spouse moves in with a new romantic partner.
Contact an Experienced Spousal Support Attorney
If you are divorcing your spouse, you probably have questions about your future and what your life will look like once the process comes to an end. Spousal support is often an incredibly important aspect to consider, as it has major financial implications for both parties.
Finding an experienced attorney who could advocate for your best interests can take some of the stress off your shoulders. A spousal support lawyer could discuss your case and options for paying or recovering maintenance.