Your standard of living tends to increase after marriage. After all, you and your spouse can combine your incomes to maintain one household. You can afford more as a unit than you ever could as individuals.
Even if one of you doesn’t work full time, their unpaid contributions around the house may allow the other to achieve greater professional success and minimize the cost to maintain your standard of living. Dependent spouses may work part-time or may not have a job at all.
When it comes time to divorce, dependent spouses may feel like they can’t live on their own. They may hope to claim spousal maintenance, also sometimes called spousal support or alimony. How long will such payments last, and how much will they be?
Every spousal support case is unique
Texas state law requires that judges consider family circumstances when responding to a request for spousal maintenance. Most maintenance orders will be temporary and will only last until the end of the divorce proceedings or a fixed amount of time after the divorce. The Texas family courts assume that anyone capable of rejoining the workforce will do so when they no longer have an obligation to maintain a marital home.
The exact amount of maintenance and how long it lasts will be a reflection of the ability of the spouse paying to afford those expenses and the need of the spouse requesting the maintenance. The standard of living during the marriage and the duration of the marital relationship can also influence spousal maintenance orders in Texas.
Typically, long-term or permanent maintenance is only available in scenarios where the marriage lasted at least 10 and where one spouse is unable to provide for themselves. Advanced age, health issues and full-time custody of children with special needs are among the possible grounds for seeking long-term or permanent maintenance from a spouse.
Changing circumstances may change maintenance orders
Those who pay spousal maintenance could lose their jobs or develop a serious medical issue that prevents them from making their payments in full. Those receiving support might remarry or secure a better job. The Texas family courts will revisit maintenance orders when the family circumstances have substantially changed.
Understanding the rules that apply to spousal maintenance in a Texas divorce will help those who need support to cover their expenses or worry about paying support while supporting themselves.