Spousal support, or spousal maintenance as it is known in the state of Texas, is a court-ordered contract initiated between soon-to-be ex-spouses during the dissolution of the marriage process. The court-ordered contract establishes that one spouse will give an allowance in increments for a specific duration of time to the other spouse even after their divorce has been finalized.
Spousal Maintenance Attorney in Brownsville, Texas
Spousal maintenance is not easily given and must be ordered by a family court, so if you are seeking spousal support, you need reliable legal counsel who can build a strong case for you. Our attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm will fight for your rights inside the courtroom. We are empathetic to your situation and want to do everything in our power to get you what you deserve.
You can contact us at (956) 504-2211 for a free, confidential consultation. We will give you our perspective on your case and the best way to go about obtaining the most favorable outcome. You can count on our experience to meet your expectations when you become our client.
We work with residents from the Brownsville area and the counties of Cameron, Willacy, and Hidalgo.
Overview of Spousal Maintenance
Who qualifies for Spousal Maintenance?
Tex. Family Code § 8.051 establishes spousal maintenance eligibility. The general guideline establishes that the spouse seeking spousal maintenance cannot meet his or her minimum needs after the dissolution of marriage because of lack of sufficient property, including separate property, in conjunction with the following:
- The spouse from whom spousal maintenance is requested from was convicted, or received deferred adjudication for a family violence act committed during marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child;
- The spouse seeking spousal maintenance cannot support himself or herself due to an incapacitating mental or physical disability;
- The spouse seeking spousal maintenance has been married to the spouse whom spousal maintenance is requested from for at least ten years or more and can’t earn the income to meet minimum reasonable needs for himself or herself; or
- The spouse seeking spousal maintenance has custody of a child born out of the marriage whose needs require a high level of personal care due to a physical and mental disability preventing the spouse from earning enough income to meet minimum reasonable needs for himself or herself.
Additionally, the court can also consider the following:
- Whether each spouse can pay for the spouse’s minimum needs on his or her own;
- The education and employment skills of each spouse, and the time it takes for a spouse to get an education or training to earn enough income;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
- The effect on each spouse’s ability to provide spousal support while also giving child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;
- The act by either spouse of misusing money;
- The contribution to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- Property brought into the marriage by either spouse;
- The spouse’s contribution as a homemaker;
- Marital misconduct by either spouse during the marriage; and
- Any history or pattern of family violence.
The court will also take into account the following when deciding to award spousal maintenance to the spouse:
- He or she has worked to earn enough income to meet his or her minimum needs; or
- He or she has attempted to develop the necessary skills to meet his or her minimum needs during separation and pending divorce.
Spousal Maintenance Award and Duration
The court ultimately determines the amount of maintenance. The court cannot require a spouse to pay for more than $5,000 a month to the spouse seeking support; or more than 20% of the spouse’s monthly gross income.
Texas law has some exceptions for the duration of spousal maintenance that the court must follow. Tex. Family Code 8.054 refers to the following:
- The court can’t award spousal maintenance for more than five years from the date of the order if the spouses have been married for less than ten years and the spousal maintenance was awarded due to the other spouse’s family violence behavior; or
- The court can’t award spousal maintenance for more than five years from the date of the order if the spouses were married for at least ten years but no more than 20 years;
- The court can’t award spousal maintenance for more than seven years from the date of the order if spouses had been married for at least 20 years but no more than 30 years; or
The court can’t award spousal maintenance for more than ten years from the date of the order if the spouses were married for 30 years or more; and
- The court must limit the duration of spousal maintenance for the shortest amount of period possible allowing the spouse who seeks maintenance to earn enough income to provide minimum reasonable needs for himself or herself unless he or she can’t because of the following:
- The spouse seeking maintenance has a physical or mental disability;
- The spouse seeking maintenance has custodial duties of an infant or young child born out of the marriage; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance has another impediment that prohibits him or her from earning enough income to provide his or her minimum reasonable needs;
However, spousal maintenance automatically terminates in case of the death of either spouse or if the spouse seeking spousal maintenance gets re-married. The court can also terminate the spousal maintenance if they find that the spouse seeking maintenance cohabitates with another person and has been in a long-term relationship with that same person. Either spouse can file a motion for modification of spousal maintenance. They must include documents that support the reason for the modification. A spouse seeking spousal support who had a change in their income status or suffered disability after the divorce was finalized, cannot petition spousal maintenance then.
Texas Family Code Chapter 8 – Texas Family Code Chapter 8 reviews the laws used during a spousal maintenance process. You can review each specific law about grounds for spousal maintenance and the duration and amount determination process.
IRS Separate Maintenance Regulations – You can visit the IRS page for more information on the process of taxes when receiving spousal support. Spousal maintenance can be regarded as alimony for tax purposes and is generally considered taxable income.
Spousal Maintenance Attorney in Cameron County, Texas
Spousal Maintenance is a contract between two spouses under the jurisdiction of the Texas family court system. The family court system can be hard to navigate by yourself, so you should seek an attorney who is experienced with spousal maintenance cases.
Our attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm are experienced in the family law practice area and want to help your spousal maintenance case move forward. If you become our client, we will fight hard to get the most favorable outcome. We will be advising you on the court process.
Call our Brownsville office at (956) 504-2211 to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys work with clients from all of the Brownsville area and the counties of Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron.