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Texas’ Spousal Support Law

support law

Alimony is the common term used to refer to payments made after a divorce to one’s former spouse by the other spouse. There are different forms of alimony in every state some are temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, permanent alimony etc. In Texas there is only one form of post-divorce payments which one spouse is obligated to pay the other spouse and it is called spousal maintenance. Court ordered spousal maintenance is one that is enforced by a judge by way of a court order for a spouse to pay involuntarily. If a party to divorce meet a certain criteria or requirements set out in the Texas Family Code, the judge can put forward an order for spousal maintenance. While the term alimony is common the Texas Family Code refers to such payment as spousal maintenance.

Spousal Support

Spousal support was introduced in Texas in 1995 thereafter it was modified in September 2011 making provision for post-divorce spousal maintenance by way of a statute. Spousal maintenance is similar to what is referred to in other states as rehabilitative alimony. Spousal support is Texas is limited as to how long it is paid out for and how much is to be paid out at a given time.

The basic intention of spousal support is for the support to continue only for a period necessary for the ex-spouse receiving it to acquire an education and employment which will allow him or her to become financially self-sufficient; that is the primary objective of spousal support.

Spousal Support Eligibility

With the objective of spousal support being to make a spouse receiving such support to become self-sufficient, eligibility is limited to a few who are able to achieve the requirements. The following are the basic requirements for a spouse to be eligible for spousal maintenance in Texas:

The marriage must have been ten years or longer that ended in divorce; whereby one party to the divorce lacks sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs and the spouse put forth diligent effort to either earn sufficient income or to develop necessary skills while the divorce was pending to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs.

The spouse is unable to support his/herself due to a physical or mental disability

The spouse is unable to be employed outside the home as a result of having to care for a child, of the marriage, with a mental or physical disability

The spouse lacks the earning capacity to support themselves

Family violence was committed by one of the spouses during the marriage.

Spousal support is limited in Texas because Texas is a community property state, therefore, all community property in a marriage are divided in a ‘just and right’ way by a judge upon divorce. This means the court does not give money only to the spouse who earned it, marital property is shared to some extent equally between the parties to the divorce.

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Michael Busby is a Houston divorce lawyer who has been in practice for over 20 years and appears daily in the Family Law Courts of Harris County and Fort Bend County Texas

Busby & Associates , have two Houston Offices, one in Chinatown, Houston Texas and another in Independent Heights, Houston, Texas. Michael Busby is Board Certified in Family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.