Sunday, November 2, 2014

Texas Family Law Myth #10 - Texas does not have alimony

Trick question.

Texas calls alimony "spousal maintenance".

Under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code (which you can read on-line for free) courts can award "spousal maintenance" in a divorce case.

If a spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance then the judge can award up to 20% of the other spouse's gross monthly income or $5,000 whichever is less.

Of course, the parties can "agree" to a different amount.  This is often done in mediation.

In order for a party to be eligible for spousal maintenance the party must meet certain eligibility requirements.  Generally, being married 10 years or more and the party is unable to provide for their minimum needs, a person is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs because of a disability, victims of family violence.

One party will often claim to be a victim of recent domestic violence in order to ask for alimony.

Texas has not opened the door to spousal support as widely as other states.  But it does exist and judges have become comfortable ordering it.

Courts can also look at "marital misconduct" in awarding spousal support.

Be aware that this is a gender neutral statute.  So the party making significantly less money (husband or wife) can ask for spousal maintenance.  If there are no community assets to award to the spouse asking for it, then spousal maintenance may be ordered by a judge.

Talk to an experienced family attorney about how your county handles spousal support/spousal maintenance.

Be aware, that most courts are generous in awarding spousal maintenance on temporary orders. Both parties need money to survive while the divorce is pending.  The person with money cannot "abandon" the spouse that never worked and has no resources to provide for their minimum daily needs.

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