Many people who are facing divorce wonder about alimony, and it can be somewhat confusing to learn that the State of Texas does not address the issue of alimony. The fact is, however, that Texas does implement a near equivalent, spousal maintenance, as it is deemed appropriate. Spousal maintenance is by no means a certainty, but it is an important financial tool in specific divorce situations. (Read more about spousal maintenance: What Are the Different Types of Spousal Maintenance in Texas?)
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance amounts to a monthly payment that can, upon divorce, be awarded to a spouse who lacks the financial means to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs. For a judge to award spousal maintenance, at least one of the following conditions must apply (in addition to the factor of financial need):
- The marriage lasted at least ten years.
- The recipient has an incapacitating physical or mental disability that precludes him or her from earning a sufficient income.
- The recipient cares for a child of the marriage who has ongoing special needs, which limits the recipient’s ability to earn a sufficient income. (Child Support and Your Child with Special Needs)
- Either the recipient or a child of the marriage was the victim of family violence (at the hand of the paying spouse) within two years of filing for divorce – or during its pendency.
What Are Minimum Reasonable Needs
Calculating one’s minimum reasonable needs can be a complicated process, and these needs are calculated on a case-by-case basis. In other words, no two cases are alike. Typically, the court will look at the recipient’s projected post-divorce budget (in relation to his or her standard of living during the marriage). The judge will consider the recipient’s financial needs and the payor’s financial ability to offset those needs while providing for his or her own financial needs.
When the court considers the financial means of each divorcing spouse, it considers more than earned income alone. Such means can include:
- Rental income
- Retirement distributions (Read more about divorce and retirement accounts)
- Separate property – especially if this can be liquidated easily. (What is the Difference between Community and Separate Property?)
In other words, before making any determinations regarding spousal maintenance, the judge will carefully consider the overall picture of both spouses’ assets.
In addition to each spouse’s current financials, several types of contributing factors will be taken into consideration regarding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, including:
- The duration of the marriage
- The recipient’s age, overall health, level of education, and employability
- The recipient’s contributions to the other spouse’s education, training, and/or career
- The recipient’s contributions as a homemaker
- The impact of child support payments (for both spouses)
- Any acts of concealment or fraud perpetrated by either spouse
- Any marital misconduct
This calculation process is quite specific to the divorce in question.
Work Closely with an Experienced Attorney
Spousal maintenance can be an important component of your financial future, and attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen has the experience, grit, and commitment to aggressively advocate for the maintenance to which you are entitled. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.