Divorces are emotionally demanding and financially stressful. Even if the change is ultimately for the better, the process will likely take a toll on your finances.
You want to arrive at the best possible outcome – whether you expect to receive spousal support following the divorce or if you will be obligated to pay spousal support. The family court ultimately determines this, but I can help guide you on how spousal support is calculated during a divorce proceeding in the state of Texas.
First, it’s important to understand some of the key elements involved in the spousal support calculation, namely, the term “spousal maintenance.” This term is defined by the state of Texas in a dissolution of marriage case.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is identified as the amount awarded to one spouse following a divorce. It is the periodic payments from the income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. This is the legally determined amount of money that one party would be required to pay if the other party cannot make ends meet and needs financial assistance before getting able to get back on his or her feet again.
In Texas, the recipient of spousal maintenance is referred to as the obligee or recipient. The spouse that is ordered to make the payments is known as the obligor or payer. If required, the court will also issue a writ of withholding that is delivered to the payer’s employer to garnish pay for the spouse’s paycheck. This amount is directed to the recipient as a form of spousal maintenance.
Who Can Request Spousal Maintenance?
Either party in the divorce can request maintenance payments. However, these payments aren’t automatic. In fact, they can be difficult to obtain. In order to qualify to receive payments, a handful of conditions must be met first.
First, the court must determine that the requesting spouse does not have enough in the way of property, income, or assets to be able to make a living. Determining this is only the first step. Once this has been determined true, then in addition to that, one or more of the following conditions must be true as well:
– The paying spouse was recently (as in the last two years) convicted of a domestic violence charge against either the requesting spouse or one or more of the couple’s children.
– The requesting spouse suffers from a physical or mental disability that makes it impossible for him or her to earn enough income to be self-sufficient.
– The requesting spouse has custody of a child who requires extended care due to a disability, making it impossible for the requesting spouse to work.
– The marriage has existed for at least ten years, and due to this long-term relationship, the requesting spouse has become dependent to the point where he or she faces extreme difficulty in finding a job or earning an income.
Determining Spousal Maintenance
Once the court has determined that one spouse is owed some form of maintenance, the next step is to determine how much money is a fair amount. There are many factors that go into this calculation.
First, Texas law mandates that spousal maintenance payments be no more than $5,000 per month, or 20% of the payer’s average monthly income – whichever is lower. For example, if the payer makes $2,000 per month, the monthly maintenance payment can not exceed $400.
Next, many different factors and circumstances will be taken into consideration:
- How much does the receiving spouse make right now?
- How much does he or she need every month to take care of everyone at home, including the children?
- How long was the couple married?
Questions like these are the starting point, but they go a long way towards ultimately determining how much the recipient should receive from the payer.
What is the Duration of Spousal Maintenance?
In addition to mandating the amount of maintenance, Texas law also determines how long maintenance can be awarded and paid from one spouse to another. In most cases, this rate falls between 5 and 10 years, depending on how long the couple was married and whether or not there is a history of violence.
The primary exception to this cap is if the spouse or a child of the spouse suffers from a disability. In this case, the maintenance payments can go on for as long as the recipient spouse is eligible and in financial need.
Contact Blair Parker for Support with Spousal Support
If you’re going through a divorce, you may have serious financial concerns. Whether you are expecting to be obligated to make spousal maintenance payments, or if you are concerned about how much you will receive as the recipient, I can provide legal support for you.
I provide legal representation to either side of a divorce and can help you better understand how spousal support is calculated so that you can set financial expectations for yourself.
I’ll also work hard to ensure that you receive fair treatment from the court when spousal maintenance is determined. For the past decade, I have helped spouses in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County arrive at the best possible financial position following a divorce.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to find legal representation during your divorce case. I’m here to help you during this stressful time.