Understanding Temporary vs. Ongoing Spousal Support

Divorce often throws a financial wrench into the mix. Texas courts may award spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, to the lower-earning spouse.

Understanding the legal nuances of spousal support and how long it may last is complicated. This blog explores the essential facts about temporary and long-term spousal support. Our divorce lawyers in the Woodlands are here to protect your interests and help you navigate the legal process.

Temporary Spousal Support in Texas

Temporary spousal support, governed by Texas Family Code Section 6.502, is paid while a divorce case is pending. The court considers several factors, outlined in Texas Family Code Section 6.503:

  • Disparity in income: The lower-earning spouse must demonstrate a financial need (Texas Family Code Section 6.503(a)(1)).
  • Marital misconduct: Spousal misconduct, like adultery or domestic violence, can strengthen the case for support (Texas Family Code Section 6.503(a)(2)).
  • Ability to pay: The higher-earning spouse’s financial resources are scrutinized to ensure affordability (Texas Family Code Section 6.503(a)(3)).

Temporary spousal support typically lasts until the divorce decree, with possible extensions under Texas Family Code Section 6.505. The amount awarded is determined by the court, which considers the factors mentioned above. Temporary spousal support is intended to cover the lower-earning spouse’s basic needs, not maintain their pre-divorce lifestyle.

Eligibility for Ongoing Spousal Support

Texas Family Code Chapter 8 outlines the requirements for a court to award continuing spousal maintenance after a divorce. The requesting spouse must be unable to provide for his/her basic needs and one of the following criteria must apply:

  • The supporting spouse was convicted of family violence within two years of the divorce filing.
  • The spouse seeking maintenance cannot support him/herself due to a disability.
  • The couple was married for 10 or more years and the spouse cannot financially provide for his/her basic needs.
  • The spouse seeking maintenance can’t work due to being the caretaker of a child with a disability.

duration of alimony depends on how long the marriage lasted

Limits on Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Even if awarded, spousal support has strict limitations outlined in Texas Family Code Chapter 8.

  • Maximum duration: No more than 10 years unless support is required for a disabled spouse or child.
  • Maximum amount: Cannot exceed 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly income or $2,500, whichever is less (Texas Family Code Section 8.052(b)).

Furthermore, spousal support can be terminated under specific circumstances, as defined in Texas Family Code Section 8.053:

  • The recipient spouse remarries or cohabits with a new partner.
  • The recipient spouse achieves financial independence.
  • A significant change in circumstances, like a substantial increase in the recipient’s income or a decrease in the paying spouse’s income.

Does Texas Have Permanent Spousal Support?

Texas courts only order permanent spousal support in cases where a spouse or child is disabled. A couple can agree to spousal support lasting longer than 10 years as part of a settlement.

In most cases, courts limit the timeframe based on how long the marriage lasted:

  • 10-20 years – no more than 5 years
  • 20-30 years – no more than 7 years
  • More than 30 years – no more than 10 years

Call Our Divorce Lawyers in The Woodlands, Texas

Understanding the intricacies of alimony is vital in a Texas divorce. An experienced family law attorney can help you:

  • Assess your eligibility for temporary or permanent spousal support.
  • Gather evidence to support your claim.
  • Negotiate a fair support agreement.
  • Advocate for your best interests during court proceedings.

Remember, navigating the legalities of spousal support requires knowledge and legal guidance. With the help of our experienced divorce lawyers in The Woodlands, you can secure a fair and equitable outcome that protects your financial future.

Contact Bolton Law at 281-351-7897 for professional advice and legal assistance.

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