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Spousal maintenance can be a contentious part of a divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Family Law

During a marriage, many spouses might not have needed to think very much about making ends meet, but in divorce they suddenly find themselves in a totally different situation. Those who earned less than their spouse or who were homemakers could need spousal maintenance just to be able to afford their living expenses.

Texas law addresses all areas of spousal maintenance. As people prepare for their lives after a divorce, it is imperative that they know what to expect. This impacts their living arrangements, whether they need to get education or training, and if they need to take other steps to ensure they are secure.

Key facts about spousal maintenance

Regarding eligibility, people who cannot earn enough income to provide for themselves will generally be able to receive maintenance. That could be due to a disability; because they were married to the other person for at least 10 years and cannot earn enough to meet their needs; or are caring for a child from the marriage who is disabled and needs care so the parent cannot find work and earn enough income to provide for themselves.

The court will consider the circumstances of both the prospective paying party and the receiving party when it makes its decision. It will look at their abilities to meet their needs independently and look at the resources. Their education and employment history is important. If they do not have the education or work experience to find a job to support themselves, they could need maintenance until they are able to accrue those attributes.

The length of the marriage is relevant. Longer marriages will likely warrant maintenance and for an extended period when compared to a short-term marriage. In many marriages, one spouse helped the other get education and training to earn their current income. They might have helped with building a business or handled the household leaving the other person free to work and go to school. This is a contribution and will be considered. Property each side brought into the marriage will be assessed. If there was marital misconduct such as abuse or adultery, the court can take that into account.

People need to understand their rights with spousal maintenance

Given these factors, spousal support can vary in its amount and duration. In some cases, there could be a problem getting any support at all. This is key for both sides and it is wise to have a grasp of what criteria will be used to decide. As with any other area of family law, there are complexities that can be confusing. Those who are in this situation must be up to date on how decisions are made and what their income and costs will be in the future.