The decision to end a marriage is not one people tend to make lightly. Nevertheless, sometimes doing so may be best for both you and your spouse.
Not only can a divorce be lengthy and emotionally draining, but it can also have a significant impact on the parties’ finances. One crucial financial aspect of a divorce, in particular, that frequently must be addressed is spousal maintenance. Simply speaking, spousal maintenance is a court-ordered financial obligation owed by one spouse to the other for a period of time following the divorce. In reality, however, spousal maintenance matters are rarely simple.
If you are in the midst of a divorce in or near Pearland, TX, and wondering whether and to what extent you may owe or be entitled to spousal maintenance, the team of attorneys at Ramos Family Law, PLLC, is here to help. Use our guide below to learn more about the spousal maintenance process in Texas and see how an attorney for spousal maintenance in Pearland can be an asset to your case.
An Overview of Spousal Maintenance in Texas
Divorce actions involving spousal maintenance can be complicated and even contentious. Thus, it’s important to have an idea of what to expect before getting started. Here are a few things you should know about spousal maintenance in Texas.
Spousal Maintenance Defined
Texas Family Code § 8.001 defines spousal maintenance as “an award in a suit for dissolution of a marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.” Spousal maintenance is also referred to in some states as spousal support or alimony.
The overarching purpose of spousal maintenance is to help provide a certain level of financial support to the recipient, allowing them to maintain a reasonable standard of living after the divorce.
How Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance Is Determined Under Texas Law
Notably, spousal maintenance is not guaranteed nor granted in all cases. Rather, Texas law specifies that a judge may order spousal maintenance where the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Would lack sufficient property and resources post-divorce to meet their minimum reasonable needs, and the other spouse has been convicted of a crime against their spouse or child;
- Is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs due to an incapacitating mental or physical disability;
- Has been married to the other spouse for 10 or more years and lacks sufficient earning capacity to provide for their minimum reasonable needs; or
- Is the custodial parent of a child who requires substantial care and supervision due to a physical or mental condition preventing the spouse from earning sufficient income to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
The parties can also agree to spousal maintenance amounts and duration.
What Does Spousal Maintenance Pay for, and How Long Does it Last?
Spousal maintenance in Texas is determined on a case-by-case basis. Thus, there is no standard amount or duration for spousal support. In determining the nature, amount, duration, and manner of the periodic maintenance payments, Texas courts will consider factors such as the:
- Ability of each spouse to meet their minimum reasonable needs independently based on their individual financial resources post-divorce;
- Level of education, employment skills, and earning capacity of the individual spouses;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Age, employment history, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
- Existence of any excessive spending or concealment of community property by either spouse during the marriage;
- Contributions by one spouse to the education, training, or earning power of the other spouse during the marriage;
- Contributions of either spouse as a homemaker;
- Separate property brought into the marriage by either spouse;
- Existence of marital misconduct by either spouse during the marriage; and
- Existence of any history of family violence.
This is not an exhaustive list, and courts will consider any other relevant factors in determining spousal maintenance.
How Prenuptial Agreements Impact Spousal Maintenance
In some cases, the existence of a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement can have significant implications on spousal maintenance. For example, if a prenup specifies a particular amount and duration of support, the parties may be required to comply with the terms set forth therein. Conversely, if the prenup specifies no spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce, this can override the spousal support provisions provided under Texas law.
However, it’s important to remember that a prenuptial agreement must meet certain requirements to be valid and enforceable. Thus, if you have questions about the enforceability of a prenup that limits your right to seek spousal maintenance, be sure to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options.
How a Pearland Spousal Maintenance Lawyer Can Help
While it’s true that you don’t need an attorney to seek spousal maintenance, the benefits of having an experienced legal professional on your side cannot be overstated. For example, an attorney can help you:
- Understand the applicable law and analyze your case,
- Develop a legal strategy to maximize your chances of success,
- Gather evidence to help support your claims,
- Draft and file important court documents,
- Negotiate potential settlements with the opposing party,
- Assist with modification and enforcement of any existing maintenance orders that may already be in place, and
- Appear in court on your behalf to present your case.
In short, hiring a Pearland spousal maintenance attorney can provide valuable guidance and legal expertise as you navigate what can be a complicated and emotional process.
Speak with a Pearland Spousal Maintenance Attorney Today
Going through a divorce is never easy, but having the right team in your corner takes some of the weight off of your shoulders and makes the process feel more manageable.
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our mission is to empower our clients and help them heal by providing excellent legal advocacy, proactive support, education, and transparency throughout the process.
Your journey toward a brighter future starts with obtaining the outcome you need and deserve in your divorce. Call today to schedule your consultation and see how we can help you with your spousal maintenance case.