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How is spousal maintenance determined?

Texas residents that are preparing to divorce may be curious about whether they will be required to pay, or entitled to receive, spousal support. Spousal support is determined by the judge on a case-by-case basis based on guidance provided by the Texas family code.

The first part of the alimony analysis is whether the spouse seeking maintenance has sufficient property and income to meet his or her reasonable needs without assistance from the other spouse. When making this determination, the judge will consider the value of the spouse's separate property, any income from that property and community assets. After it is shown that the spouse needs maintenance, the judge must find that the marriage lasted at least ten years, that the spouse seeking maintenance is disabled and unable to earn an income, or that the spouse cares for a disabled child of the marriage that is ending.

Once the court determines that alimony is appropriate, the next step is to determine the appropriate amount. Factors to be considered include each spouse's education, training and experience, as well as how much time a spouse might need to develop employment skills and find a job. If one spouse contributed to the other person's training or education, that is relevant. The judge will also consider each spouse's age, health and ability to work. The law allows for consideration of marital misconduct, excessive spending during the marriage and whether there is any history of domestic violence.

Each situation is unique and the information provided here should not be construed as legal advice. A local family law attorney may be able to help a spouse determine whether maintenance is likely based on a given set of facts or may be able to assist in negotiating a fair alimony settlement.

Source: Texas State Legislature, "Family Code", November 21, 2014

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