In many states, financial support provided to a spouse after divorce is referred to as “alimony.” However, in Texas, this is known as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” As the trend of gray divorce continues to rise in Texas, understanding the intricacies of spousal support becomes paramount. For couples parting ways after decades of marriage, the financial implications can be profound. The Texas Family Code provides specific guidelines on this matter, ensuring that both parties are treated fairly.
1. Understanding Spousal Maintenance in Texas:
Spousal maintenance is not automatically granted but is considered based on specific criteria outlined in the Texas Family Code.
2. Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance:
According to the Texas Family Code, a spouse may be eligible for maintenance if they lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs and:
- Have been married for more than 10 years and cannot support themselves,
- Have a physical or mental disability,
- Are the custodian of a child who requires substantial care due to a physical or mental disability, or
- Have been a victim of family violence.
3. Determining the Amount and Duration:
The Texas Family Code provides guidelines on the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. Typically, the court will consider factors such as each spouse’s financial resources, education and employment skills, duration of the marriage, age, employment history, and physical and emotional condition.
For marriages lasting between 10 to 20 years, or if there was family violence, the support might be provided for up to 5 years. For marriages lasting between 20 to 30 years, the duration can be up to 7 years. And for marriages lasting 30 years or more, spousal maintenance might be awarded for up to 10 years.
4. Gray Divorce and Its Unique Challenges:
In the context of gray divorce, the implications of spousal maintenance can be even more significant. With retirement on the horizon or already in place, ensuring financial stability becomes crucial. The division of assets, potential health concerns, and the likelihood of re-entering the workforce can all play a role in determining the need and amount of spousal support.
Navigating the complexities of spousal support in the context of gray divorce requires a deep understanding of the Texas Family Code and the unique challenges faced by older couples. It’s essential to approach these decisions with the guidance of experienced legal counsel. To discuss retaining our firm for your divorce or child custody case, please schedule a consultation with us today.