When a couple begins the divorce process, one spouse may seek temporary spousal support.

Working through a divorce can be a financially tumultuous time, especially when one spouse decides to move out of the family home.

Both partners must adjust to living on single incomes during this time. Fewer financial resources coupled with court costs, lawyer fees, and any additional divorce-related expenses like the costs of hiring outside professionals to aid in the divorce process can quickly sink both partners into a deep financial hole.

Temporary spousal support can help the lesser earning spouse avoid this hardship.

Seeking Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is a type of monetary support that one spouse provides the other while their divorce is pending. A judge may grant temporary spousal support due to the time it takes to finalize a divorce. This allows both you and your spouse to remain financially stable until you finalize the divorce.

To seek temporary spousal support, you must file a Motion for Temporary Orders and request a temporary spousal support hearing. At the hearing, you must demonstrate to the court that you need the temporary spousal support to cover your living expenses.

The court bases a temporary spousal support order on many of the same factors used to determine alimony such as:

  • Your employment history and vocational skills;
  • Your current income as well as your spouse’s current income; and
  • The standard of living established during your marriage.

The court may determine that temporary spousal support is appropriate for a specific period of time, such as three or four months, or that it is necessary for you to receive temporary support until you finalize your divorce.

It is possible to modify a temporary spousal support order if your circumstances have changed significantly. In order to obtain a modification, you must provide evidence of your changed circumstances to the court.

Although the court looks at various factors about a couple’s lifestyle and the needs of the spouse seeking temporary support, overall there are fewer requirements for a temporary spousal support order than there are for spousal maintenance or contractual maintenance orders.

Temporary Spousal Support is Not Alimony

In Texas, alimony is known as spousal maintenance. Temporary spousal support is not a type of spousal maintenance.

It can be easy to confuse the two because they are both money paid from one spouse to the other to protect the recipient from facing financial hardship. In many cases, spousal maintenance is not permanent.

As opposed to temporary spousal support, spousal maintenance is court-ordered payments to be made after the divorce is final. The final divorce decree will set out the spousal maintenance amount. A judge can order a spouse to pay spousal maintenance if the spouse requesting it will not have enough to support themselves after a divorce. Additionally, other factors must apply, including:

  • The paying spouse was convicted or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence within two years of the divorce filing or while the divorce was pending;
  • The spouse asking for maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income due to mental disability or physical incapacity;
  • The requesting spouse is unable to earn an income because they are the primary caretaker of a child with a physical or mental disability; or
  • The marriage lasted 10 or more years.

Just as temporary spousal support ends after you finalize your divorce, spousal maintenance can also come to an end. How long a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance depends on the years married. Indefinite spousal maintenance is available only for spouses suffering from mental or physical disabilities and those caring for children with disabilities.

Contractual Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is court-ordered, whether the spouses agree or not. Contractual maintenance, on the other hand, is based on the agreement of both parties. Contractual maintenance is also not subject to the same restrictions as spousal maintenance.

The parties and their attorneys discuss and agree to all details of the contractual maintenance, including the amount and duration of payments. The court will then lay out all the agreements in the final divorce decree.

Work with an Experienced Austin Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering filing for divorce, first discuss your case in detail with an experienced Austin, TX divorce lawyer. By doing this, you can learn more about your rights and your legal options throughout the divorce process.

To get started, contact our team at the Law Office of Ben Carrasco, PLLC, and schedule your initial legal consultation in our office. We can answer all your questions and clear up any misconceptions you have about spousal support, spousal maintenance, or other divorce topics.

About the Author
Ben Carrasco is a highly skilled family law attorney based in Austin, Texas, known for his extensive expertise in family law and business litigation. While his primary focus is family law, Ben brings a wealth of experience in litigating diverse business disputes, ranging from breach of contract and collections to business torts, fraud, and real estate matters. In his family law practice, Ben navigates all aspects of the field, including divorce, child custody, support, property division, and more, offering clients expert guidance throughout the litigation process. His legal journey began in complex commercial litigation, initially with a global law firm and later with a prominent Austin-based firm. However, driven by a desire to make a direct impact on people's lives and embrace the human element of the law, Ben transitioned to family law, a decision that has proven to be deeply rewarding. A proud Austin native with roots in California, Ben completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, before earning his law degree at Stanford Law School, where he excelled in legal writing and served as an associate editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.