The Ties that Bind — Will I Get (or Will I Have to Pay) Spousal Support After the Divorce is Final?

It depends. What we hear regularly from clients is the belief that if parties were married for more than 10 years, support is automatically due. Well…not so fast. The Texas Family Code provides the bases for spousal maintenance in the State of Texas, and the reality is not as kind to those seeking support as that common misconception would suggest.

In order to be entitled to spousal maintenance in Texas, a spouse must show that she/he will lack sufficient property, including separate property, after divorce, to provide for “minimum reasonable needs” AND has either (1) been married for at least 10 years AND lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for “minimum reasonable needs;” (2) is unable to earn income because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability, (3) is the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents earning sufficient income to provide for minimum reasonable needs; OR (4) the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted or received deferred adjudication for an offense constituting family violence during the marriage against the spouse or child and the offense occurred within two years prior to the date the divorce was filed or while the divorce was pending.

If a spouse can meet these elements for entitlement to maintenance, the court examines various factors in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment. It is important to discuss additional, relevant provisions of this Family Code section with your attorney.