Going through a divorce can be emotionally draining, frustrating, and financially difficult. If you earn significantly less than your spouse or stayed home as a homemaker or at-home parent, you might be concerned about what will happen to your finances during and after the divorce. Likewise, if you are the higher-earning spouse, you might be worried that your spouse will request spousal support payments you can not afford. Whatever your situation, it is important to consider the factors that determine spousal maintenance in a divorce.
Understanding Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is a regular payment from one spouse to another made during or after the divorce. It is important to note that the Texas Family Code does not define spousal maintenance as alimony. These payments for spousal maintenance can help support the lesser-earning spouse to gain more financial stability and the ability to support themselves independently. Some spouses may agree to through their own respective attorney terms of spousal maintenance when the divorce is finalized or during the pendency of the case, but in other instances, the court may order one spouse to pay the other spousal maintenance for a specified period of time.
Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?
While it may vary, Texas views spousal support as a way to help provide for the basic needs of the lesser-earning spouse.
Spouses may qualify for spousal maintenance because they suffer from a physical disability. The physical disability type of spousal maintenance is interesting because the length of the spousal support may last for as long as the physical disability lasts for the disabled spouse. In the event that one parent cannot work because he or she must care for a child of the marriage who requires special care because of a disability, he or she may receive spousal support. Lastly, if the marriage lasted longer than 10 years and the lesser-earning spouse does not have sufficient resources to meet their minimum monthly needs, then he or she may also qualify.
Factors That Determine Spousal Support
The amount of spousal support you may receive depends on several factors, including:
(1) each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse's financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;
(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
(3) the duration of the marriage;
(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(5) the effect on each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;
(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
(7) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(8) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(9) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(10) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and
(11) any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004 of the Texas Family Code.
If you are going through a divorce, consider discussing your concerns about alimony with our experienced divorce attorney. Contact Phillip M. Herr, Attorney at Law to get started.