Divorcing spouses often worry how they will make ends meet. They know the income that once supported one household must now be divided to support two, and they’re unsure what impact that will have on their finances.
At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we usually talk with our divorce clients in detail about their financial situations to make sure their interests are protected. Part of that conversation is talking about spousal maintenance (which our clients often refer to as “alimony” or “spousal support”).
Texas Courts May Order Spousal Maintenance in Some Cases
In our state, Texas Family Code Section 8.051 says that Texas courts may order spousal maintenance for the spouse seeking maintenance if that spouse will lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs when the marriage ends. The spouse seeking maintenance must meet additional criteria, including:
- Having an incapacitating mental or physical disability: Medical records are often required to prove the existence of the disability if it’s disputed.
- Having been married for 10 or more years and now lacking the ability to earn sufficient income: This often applies to housewives who have spent more than a decade at home taking care of the children and running the household.
- Being the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires significant care because of mental or physical disability: The child can be any age, from just born to a grown adult. Like with an adult’s disability, medical records are often required to prove the disability if it’s disputed.
In some cases, courts can order a spouse to pay spousal maintenance when that spouse has been convicted of a crime that constitutes domestic violence against their spouse or children. Several different crimes constitute domestic violence, including sexual assault.
“Minimum Reasonable Needs:” What Does That Mean?
The law says that a person is eligible for spousal maintenance when they lack property to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs.” But, what does that mean? There is no set amount. Instead, minimum reasonable needs are determined on a case-by-case basis. What may be reasonable for one person is different for another. In many cases, attorneys can guide their clients through putting together a reasonable budget based on their history and their predicted needs after a divorce.
How Is the Spousal Maintenance Amount Determined?
The amount of spousal maintenance that someone pays or receives is determined on a case-by-case basis. While you might be tempted to compare yourself to a couple you know or read about in the news, it’s best to talk with a lawyer directly about your own situation.
If courts order spousal maintenance after divorce, you should know that there is a cap on the monthly payment. A spouse will pay no more than the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of their average monthly gross income. This is different from child support, which courts calculate based on net income.
There are tax implications, too. Spousal support is paid from post-tax money. So, the spouse who receives it does not have to pay tax on it. This can have huge tax implications.
Talk With an Attorney About Spousal Maintenance
Because spousal maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis, it’s best to talk with a lawyer about your own situation. Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential.