Your spouse cheated on you. He makes more money than you. You stayed home with the kids while he worked. And now he wants divorce. Does any of this sound like you? Now you are left wondering how you are going to pay for things. You haven’t worked in at least 10 years while raising the children. Now suddenly you are going to have to go get a job and provide for yourself, but who is going to hire you? These are the things running through your head. Next you google Alimony in Texas or Spousal Support in Texas. And this is when you realize it is not as easy as you thought.
There are many factors that go into whether you qualify for spousal maintenance. Some of these are your ability to provide for yourself, how long the marriage was, whether there was any family violence, whether there are any disabled children. This post will focus strictly on the ability to provide for yourself and the caps on spousal maintenance.
First of all, in Texas we do not have Alimony. We instead have spousal maintenance. To be eligible for spousal maintenance one of two things must occur:
- your spouse must have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence committed during the marriage within 2 years before the date a divorce is filed or while the divorce has been pending; or
- are unable to meet your minimum needs due to disability
- you were married for 10 years or longer to this spouse and you lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for your minimum needs
- a child of the marriage requires substantial care and supervision because of a disability and that prevents you from earning a sufficient income to provide for your minimum needs.
In determining your ability to provide for your minimum needs the court will consider your financial circumstances. In every divorce the parties are required to complete a Financial Information Sheet which details out your income and expenses for the Court. The Court will consider this as well as your employability in determining an award for spousal maintenance. The Court will also consider the ability of your spouse to meet his minimum needs before providing for spousal maintenance. If your spouse cannot pay for his minimum reasonable needs then the Court will not be able to award spousal maintenance to you.
If you are successful in showing that you cannot meet your minimum reasonable needs then there is a limit to how much spousal maintenance you can receive. This is limited by both dollar amount and length of time. The dollar limit is up to $5,000 per month or 20% of that spouses average monthly gross income. Again, however, the Court is only going to Order support that would allow you to meet your minimum reasonable needs and also allow him to meet his minimum reasonable needs. The length of time that the spousal maintenance can be awarded is based on the length of the marriage and the reason that spousal maintenance is being awarded. The purpose of spousal maintenance is not to provide for life, but rather to temporarily provide support until you can get back on your feet and provide for yourself.