Spousal support, alimony, maintenance; regardless of what term is used, every state has different guidelines and rules for determining spousal maintenance, as it's referred to in Texas. Historically, maintenance existed to ensure for the financial security of a divorced woman who relied upon her husband's income while married.
Today, many women work outside of the home and frequently earn incomes equal to or in excess of an ex-husband. As a result, maintenance laws have been amended to ensure for more equality.
In Texas, in order to receive maintenance, a divorced man or woman must meet certain eligibility requirements. The basic requirement calls on an individual to prove that he or she "lacks sufficient property...to provide for minimum needs" post divorce. In addition, one of the following situations must also apply.
• An ex-spouse was convicted of domestic violence within two years of the divorce-filing date.
• An individual's financial hardships are related to a physical or mental disability or a custodial child's physical or mental disability.
• The duration of the marriage was 10 or more years.
In cases where the court determines an individual is eligible to receive maintenance based upon one of the above-referenced eligibility requirements, other factors must also be taken into account. These factors will help guide the court when determining the amount, duration and other requirements related to the maintenance order. These include:
• Each spouse's individual resources and financial situation
• Employment history and education
• Duration of the marriage
• Each spouse’s individual financial and other contributions
• History of family violence
• Spending habits of each spouse
In most divorce cases where maintenance is granted, an individual who was married 10 to 20 years will receive maintenance for five years. Those married 20 to 30 years, receive seven years of maintenance and those married 30 or more years, 10 years of maintenance.
Maintenance amounts are determined by the court, but cannot exceed $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the paying spouse's monthly gross income.
Fort Worth residents who are planning to divorce and believe maintenance will be a factor, would be wise to discuss their situation with an attorney.
Source: Texas Constitution and Satatues, "Chapter 8: Texas Family Code: Maintenance," 2014