Often called “alimony” or “spousal support”, spousal maintenance is set by the judge during your divorce. However, there’s a lot to understand about this financial support, how it works, how it’s set, and how long it will last.
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is nothing more than additional money paid by one spouse in support of the other after divorce. It’s paid to ensure that the other spouse can enjoy a specific quality of life.
What Factors Go into Setting Spousal Maintenance in Texas Divorces?
Understand that spousal maintenance is handled on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all law here. There are a few reasons that spousal maintenance is usually ordered by a family law court, which include the following:
- Domestic Violence: If the other spouse has been convicted of or has received “deferred adjudication” for violence against the other spouse or a child within two years of the divorce being filed, or before the divorce is finalized, the judge may order spousal maintenance.
- Long-Term Marriage: If the marriage lasted 10 years or longer and the spouse seeking maintenance doesn’t have property or income to support their quality of life, and lacks earning ability to earn, or is disabled, or is the primary caretaker of a disabled child, the judge can order spousal maintenance.
Note that spouses who are sponsored immigrants may also see court-ordered spousal maintenance. Both parties in a divorce can also agree to a period of spousal maintenance with one another (this is technically called contractual alimony in Texas law).
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?
While the court has the final say, there are a few guidelines when it comes to spousal maintenance duration, including the following:
- Violence-related or deferred adjudication-related: no more than five years
- The marriage lasted more than 10 years but less than 20 years: no more than five years
- The marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years: no more than seven years
- The marriage lasted for 30 years or longer: no more than 10 years
Note that if the supported spouse is disabled or caring for a disabled child and cannot earn enough money to support themselves because of that, the court can order support to remain in effect.
Spousal maintenance is a complicated issue and many different factors can affect it. Discuss your financial support needs with your divorce attorney to ensure you understand what’s likely to happen in your case.