While most divorce litigants believe that post-divorce spousal maintenance (also referred to as support) is a given if a marriage has lasted for 10 years or more, the truth is that the Texas Family Code’s allowances for post-divorce spousal maintenance (also called support) are fairly limited , keeping in mind that the inquiry of a court in determining entitlement to post-divorce spousal maintenance is quite different from the considerations for providing temporary support while a divorce is pending.
A spouse seeking post-divorce spousal maintenance must jump through some significant hoops in order to qualify for support, including the following, which must be established as a threshold matter:
If one or more of the above-stated thresholds are met, a requesting spouse must then establish that he or she lacks sufficient property, including what the spouse may be awarded as part of the divorce or otherwise maintain as separate property, to provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs.” A requesting spouse must also show that he or she used “due diligence” during the pendency of the divorce in earning income or acquiring the skills necessary to earn income to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs.
If the requesting spouse is found to have met the above-noted burdens, the court will then look at several factors in determining the nature, duration, amount, and manner of payment of maintenance. If ordered, the Texas Family Code limits post-divorce maintenance to five years for marriages between 10 and 20 years' duration (or less than 10 years if other qualifying standards are met), seven years for 20-30 year marriages, and 10 years for marriages in excess of 30 years (with some extension provisions for disabled spouses or spouses caring for disabled children).
It is important to note that the Family Code mandates that the duration of maintenance shall be limited to the shortest reasonable period to allow for the requesting spouse to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her own minimum reasonable needs (unless there is a finding of diminished capacity because of physical or mental disabilities, duties as a custodian or other compelling impediments to earning sufficient income). Orders for maintenance are also subject to future review and/or modification by the court.
Spring/Woodlands attorney Lisa Bruce represents clients in Montgomery County, Harris County, and the surrounding areas of Texas in spousal maintenance matters, including motions to modify spousal maintenance. She has extensive experience working with individuals who are seeking spousal maintenance and those who oppose a request for spousal support.
If you have questions about spousal support during the pendency of a Texas divorce, post-divorce, or modifications of spousal maintenance, we invite you to contact our law office to learn more.
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