Spousal maintenance is a legal concept designed to provide financial support to a lower-earning or non-earning spouse after a divorce. In Texas, spousal maintenance is governed by specific laws and guidelines that aim to balance the financial needs and abilities of both parties involved.
In Texas, eligibility for spousal maintenance is not automatic and requires meeting specific criteria to qualify. The spouse seeking maintenance must demonstrate that they lack sufficient property or income to meet their reasonable minimum needs following the divorce and they must meet one of the following conditions: the marriage lasted for at least ten years, the spouse seeking support has a disability, the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child with a disability, or the spouse who would pay the maintenance has been found to have committed family violence in the last two years.
The duration and amount of spousal maintenance are determined based on various factors. The Court evaluates the financial resources and needs of both parties by considering the length of the marriage, the ability of the receiving spouse to earn a living, and the impact of the marriage on the recipient’s earning potential. In Texas, the maximum duration for spousal maintenance is determined by the length of the marriage, with a cap of 5 years for marriages between 10 and 20 years. If the marriage lasted for 20 to 30 years, the cap raises to 7 years. If the marriage was longer than 30 years, spousal maintenance caps out at 10 years. However, should the maintenance be ordered on the grounds of a disabled spouse or disabled child of the marriage the Court could order maintenance for as long as the receiving spouse is eligible.
Spousal maintenance orders can be modified or terminated under specific circumstances. If the spouse receiving maintenance remarries, the support automatically terminates. Additionally, if there is a significant change in either party’s financial circumstances, such as a substantial increase or decrease in income or the inability to pay, the court may modify the maintenance order. It’s essential to note that spousal maintenance can also be terminated if the receiving spouse cohabitates with another person in a romantic relationship, as this is seen as a potential means of financial support.