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Eligibility for spousal maintenance in Texas

Residents in Texas may benefit from reviewing the state's legislation governing spousal maintenance. The General Provisions under Texas Family Code describe maintenance as an award from the dissolution of marriage that consists of periodic compensation from one spouse's future income to support the other spouse. The party entitled to receive the maintenance payment is referred to as the obligee, while the person making the payments is known as obligor.

Spouses who will lack sufficient property after the divorce may be entitled to receive maintenance payments to account for minimum reasonable needs going forward. Spouses convicted of domestic violence related offenses within two years of receiving the divorce summons, or while pending, may be required to pay maintenance as well. Spouses who will be unable to earn sufficient income due to a disability and those married for at least 10 years may be entitled to receive maintenance. In addition, spouses who are custodians of children with disabilities that prevent them from earning sufficient income are typically entitled to collect maintenance.

When determining the amount of maintenance obligations, courts typically evaluate the spouse's ability to provide reasonable minimum needs, employment skills, level of education, the duration of the marriage, earning ability, marital misconduct, separate property and other factors. The amount of maintenance ordered is typically no more than 20 percent of monthly gross income of the obligor or $5,000.

People who need help with spousal maintenance often benefit from meeting with a divorce lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to assist with the negotiation or could help clients assess the appropriate amount to request during proceedings. Divorce lawyers may also be able to help some spouses develop a parenting plan that is equitable for both parties. Some divorcing spouses benefit from receiving guidance when negotiating alimony in a settlement outside of court as well.

Source: Texas Constitution and Statute, "CHAPTER 8. MAINTENANCE", September 29, 2014

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