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Spousal Support


Spousal support, also referred to as spousal maintenance and alimony, is not awarded as often as it once was.  The legislature has limited the court’s ability to order spousal maintenance.  The spouse seeking spousal support must prove that he or she:

  • Is a spouse
  • Lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs, and
  • Has met one of the four statutory bases for spousal support.

First, you must prove that you are a spouse.  Unmarried people living together are not eligible to receive spousal support.

Second, the asking spouse must prove that he or she cannot meet his or her “minimum reasonable needs” through property awarded.  This includes things like:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Utility bills
  • Automobile payments
  • Insurance (home, medical and auto)
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Credit cards
  • Uncovered medical expenses, drugs and medicine
  • Clothing
  • Child care
  • Transportation cost

Third, once the asking spouse has met the statutory bases for maintenance in order to be eligible to receive spousal support he or she must prove one of the four statutory bases for support under the Texas Family Code.

  1. Married at least ten years – And he or she:
    • Lacks ability to earn sufficient income; and
    • He or she has made diligent effort to earn sufficient income or develop skills
  2. There was Family Violence
    • Act was against asking spouse or his or her child;
    • Act occurred within two years of the divorce suit; and
    • There was a conviction or deferred adjudication for the act of family violence
  3. Asking Spouse is disabled
    • Asking spouse suffers from an incapacitation physical or mental disability
    • The disability causes the spouse to be unable to earn sufficient income
  4. Claim based on care for disabled child
    • Child was of the marriage
    • Child can be of any age, even adult
    • Child is disabled and requires substantial care
    • The care prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income

If the post-divorce spousal support is based on a ten-year marriage it is limited to the least amount of time reasonably needed for that spouse to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs by obtaining employment or developing appropriate skills, but is limited to a maximum of three years. In determining the duration of spousal maintenance the court will consider:

  1. The financial resources of both spouses, including debts and separate property;
  2. The education and employment skills of both spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or skills;
  3. The duration of the marriage;
  4. The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  5. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that his/her own personal needs and any child support obligations while also meeting the personal needs of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  6. Acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property;
  7. The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  8. The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
  9. The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
  10. Marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  11. The efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling.

If spousal support is not ordered in the divorce proceeding it cannot be awarded afterward because a spouse loses a job or develops an incapacitating disability.

However, while a case is pending the court has unlimited authority to award temporary spousal support. The court will consider the needs of the requesting spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The court will consider the following factors:

  1. Health and age of the parties;
  2. Ability to work;
  3. Responsibility for the children;
  4. Availability of funds; and
  5. Length of the marriage

Spousal support is a complicated area of divorce law and it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. At the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC, our divorce lawyers are experienced and can advise you about what to expect. Contact our office today to receive an evaluation of your case 214- 265-7630.