The Texas Family Code states that a person is entitled to receive spousal maintenance if the person can prove that the other spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constitutes family violence. The act of family violence has to have been committed against the other spouse or a child of the other spouse and the act of family violence has to have been committed during the marriage within than two years before filing for divorce or while the divorce action was pending.

An interesting question was posed regarding this provision of the statute; “Does the act of family violence have to have occurred during the two years preceding the divorce or does the spouse have to have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for family violence within two years prior to filing for divorce?”

The answer is the act of family violence has to have occurred during the marriage within the two years prior to filing for divorce or during the pendency of the case. Also, the person has to have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for that act of family violence that occurred during the marriage within the two years prior to filing for divorce.

Example: A wife commits an act of family violence against her husband 5 years prior to either spouse filing for divorce. The wife was convicted four years ago of assault pertaining to the incident of family violence against her Husband that occurred five years prior. This act of family violence for which wife was convicted did not occur within the two years prior to the filing for divorce. Therefore, it does not qualify the husband to receive spousal maintenance for the family violence that was committed against him.

Another question I have received is “Does an arrest for family violence enable a person to receive spousal support?” The answer is no. The person who committed the family violence has to have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constitutes family violence.
 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.