Spousal maintenance is commonly referred to as divorce alimony. Any dissolution of marriage involving one of the spouses seeking spousal maintenance is ideally handled by an experienced divorce attorney who knows how to make equitable divorce settlements. Factors determining eligibility for spousal support are many, but the main factors include (1) all the financial resources of the spouse seeking support; (2) education and employment skills, time necessary for education or vocational training; (3) duration of the marriage; (4) age, employment history, earning ability, as well as the emotional and physical well being of the spouse; and (5) the efforts of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to obtain suitable employment.
Texas House Bill 901 became effective for divorce cases filed on or after September 1, 2011 and changed the factors required to be considered by a court in determining the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments for a spouse who is eligible to receive maintenance.
Here are a few of the more important changes regarding spousal maintenance awards:
1. Previously, the maximum amount of spousal support the courts could award was $2,500 per month. Today, the maximum amount is $5,000 per month. (However the award cannot exceed 20% of the payer’s average gross monthly income.)
2. Depending on the length of the marriage, spousal maintenance can extend to a maximum of 10 years (if parties were married for more than 30 years).
3. In order to receive “maintenance,” (which is the statutory term for spousal support), the spouse seeking support must lack sufficient property to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs”, AND one of the following:
(1) The recipient must be unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability;
(2) The marriage lasted for 10 years or longer and the recipient lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs;
(3) The recipient is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; OR
(4) The person ordered to pay support was convicted of or received deferred jurisdiction for an act of family violence during the pendency of the suit or within two years of the date the suit is filed.
In cases where the maintenance is awarded due to the mental or physical disability of the spouse or a child of the marriage, the court may order that the maintenance continue as long as the disability continues.
Call LaFour Law today and schedule a consultation with one of our divorce attorneys to discuss your issues and concerns related to spousal maintenance. One of our experienced divorce lawyers can assist you in sifting through these important considerations—all of which can ultimately impact the quality of your life for years to come.