Divorce is a complex and emotional process, regardless of where you live, whether you have high-value assets, or how many times you’ve been married. While Texas may have a lower divorce rate than other states, it doesn’t make the experience any less confusing or painful, especially given the complexity of Texas’ family laws. It becomes even more complicated when money is involved, such as alimony.
You may have many questions about your options if you or your spouse is seeking alimony or spousal support. To help you understand the considerations involved in receiving spousal support in Texas, in this article, Balekian Hayes, PLLC’s spousal support attorneys go over the key factors for determining alimony, including the duration of your marriage, with a particular focus on high-asset divorce cases.
What Is Spousal Support in Texas?
Spousal support, known as spousal maintenance in Texas, can be crucial to a divorce settlement, particularly in high-asset cases. The purpose of spousal support is to provide financial assistance to the dependent spouse after the dissolution of a marriage. It’s intended to help the less financially secure spouse adjust to life after divorce.
Who Is Eligible for Spousal Maintenance?
In Texas, spousal support is determined on an individual basis. However, a court will order spousal support in certain circumstances, such as when:
1. The marriage has lasted at least 10 years, and the spouse seeking spousal maintenance, called the oblige, lacks sufficient property or income to meet their reasonable needs and is either:
- The primary caregiver for a disabled child.
- Unable to earn sufficient income to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
2. The paying spouse, known as the obligor, has been convicted or received deferred adjudication for a spouse’s violent offense against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child within two years before filing for divorce or while divorce proceedings are pending. In this case, the duration of the marriage is unimportant.
3. Both parties agree to the amount and duration of spousal maintenance.
4. The obligee is a sponsored immigrant and has requested the court enforce an Affidavit of Support, requiring the obligor to provide support until the obligee becomes a U.S. citizen.
What Factors Does the Court Consider When Determining Spousal Maintenance?
When the requesting spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance based on the circumstances described above, the court will consider several factors to determine the amount and duration of support. These factors include:
The Duration of the Marriage
For a spouse to qualify for spousal maintenance, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years or fall under one of the exceptions described above. The longer the marriage, the more likely the oblige will receive alimony.
The Needs of Each Spouse
To qualify for spousal support, the requesting spouse must be unable to meet their basic needs after the divorce. This applies in both high- and low-asset divorce situations. The court considers variables such as the requesting spouse’s earning capacity, employment history, educational background, age, and health status. A court may be more likely to award spousal support to a spouse who is elderly, disabled, or has a chronic illness or medical condition that requires ongoing treatment.
The Couple’s Standard of Living During the Marriage
After considering the couple’s lifestyle during the marriage, the court may seek to maintain a comparable standard of living for the requesting spouse. In high-asset cases, the court will consider whether the spouse requesting support is accustomed to a particular lifestyle and can maintain it after the divorce. This may include factors such as the type of residence they lived in, the frequency of travel and vacations, and the level of luxury goods and services they enjoyed.
Spousal Fault in Divorce
A court may reduce or deny spousal support if it finds that one party was at fault in the divorce.
Factors in High-Asset Cases
A court will consider additional provisions and factors when determining the amount and eligibility for spousal support in high-asset divorce cases. The court has the discretion to consider factors such as contribution to marital property when one spouse significantly contributed to the accumulation of property or assets during the marriage, the property and debts of each spouse, the division of property and assets, any dissipation or waste of marital assets, and the tax consequences of spousal support.
How Is the Amount of Spousal Maintenance Determined?
There is no set formula for determining the amount of spousal support awarded to either party. The amount of spousal support an individual receives is determined by the court’s consideration of various factors. Despite these considerations, Texas limits the amount of spousal support a court can award to either $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever is lower.
Duration of Spousal Maintenance
Stringent regulations in Texas also govern the duration of alimony payments. The length of the marriage determines how long payments can be made, as follows:
- Five years of payments for marriages lasting less than 10 years when the supporting spouse is convicted of family violence.
- Five years of payments for marriages lasting between 10 and 20 years.
- Seven years of payments for marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years.
- Ten years of payments for marriages lasting 30 years or more.
If the support payments are made because of a disability or parental responsibilities, then there may be no limit to the amount that can be paid.
Let Balekian Hayes, PLLC’s Experienced Family Law Attorneys Assist You
Whether you need spousal support to survive or your ex wants more than you can afford, we can help. Our lawyers know how to resolve divorces efficiently and with our client’s needs as our top priority. We settle the most valuable and complex asset distribution with due diligence, frequent communication, and straightforward, practical advice.
To discuss spousal support and any other divorce-related issues with an attorney, call our Dallas office at 214-828-2800 or complete our secure online contact form. We serve residents in Dallas, Texas, and the surrounding areas.