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Unlucky in Love: What Southlake Women Need to Know About Spousal Support

Judges in Texas determine whether spousal maintenance, what most call alimony, is appropriate in a divorce in Southlake. Maintenance is an award in a suit for dissolution of marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. In Texas, the law presumes that a spouse does not need spousal support from the other and a maintenance order is not necessary. However, spousal support can be ordered if the spouse making that request shows a good faith effort to earn income or acquire education to be able to earn income, but otherwise is unable to provide for their needs. 

If the Court determines that it is appropriate to move forward and evaluate the wife’s maintenance request, they apply a series off actors in determining the nature of support, the amount, duration, and method of the spousal support payment. 

Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions

Women in need of spousal support in their divorce should be clear on their temporary and permanent support needs when they file for a divorce. At Barrows Firm in Southlake, founding attorney Leslie Barrows and her colleagues discuss a woman’s rights and options in divorce and also review their stake in community property distribution and child support. 

Want the Men’s Perspective? Our Article: Men’s Issues and Perspectives on Divorce: Spousal Support and Child Support

In Texas, either spouse can request an awarded order of spousal maintenance in a divorce, however, the Court can only order maintenance if the other spouse requesting a maintenance award does not otherwise have enough property to provide for their basic needs at the time of the divorce, and there is an additional required circumstance such as 1) a family violence conviction, 2) physical or mental disability, 3) it’s a 10-year marriage and the dependent spouse lacks income earning abilities, or 4) the spouse requesting is the custodial parent of a child requiring significant personal care preventing them from earning income. 

Texas Spousal Support is Limited by Statute, for People Seeking Court-Ordered Maintenance Eligibility 

A spouse may seek maintenance if they lack sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs and (1) the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for family violence within two years or while the suit is pending; or (2) the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn income because of a physical or mental disability; or (3) has been married to the other spouse for more than 10 years and cannot earn sufficient income; or (4) is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and supervision so the spouse cannot provide for their own reasonable needs. 

Factors in Determining Maintenance

The Court uses all relevant factors in determining maintenance awards if the spouse is eligible. The Court considers earning capacity and ability, education and employment skills, duration of employment, duration of the marriage, and other income-generating factors. Additionally, the Court considers the spouse’s contribution to the other in the marriage and what happened over time, acutely causing the divorce. Endless arguments over equity and fairness can be tied to a request for spousal support. 

Amount 

Financial assistance in the way of spousal maintenance is calculated based on what each party contributes to the marriage including maintaining the home, educational efforts, and the division of marital property. Spousal support may not exceed 20 percent of the supporting spouse’s income or the total amount of $5,000 monthly. 

Duration

Designed to be rehabilitative and not an annuity, maintenance is usually only ordered for a total of five years in a marriage lasting under 20 years or where there has been a history of family violence. Marriages lasting 20 to 30 years have a maximum of seven years of support and 10 years for marriages more than 30 years. 

Spousal Support Can Be Ordered According to the Texas Family Code or by Private Agreement

Texas judges prefer parties to settle their disputes and if the husband is agreeable to pay his ex-wife spousal support, he can do that in a way that makes sense for both him and her. For example, the wife’s claim for maintenance might be on the fence in the eyes of the Court, after weighing property distribution, and the wife’s attorney may save the husband some money by dropping the maintenance claim if the husband voluntarily agrees to some form of spousal support in the marital settlement agreement. The extra cashflow to the ex-wife may be very helpful to her getting on her feet after the divorce and she may opt to forgo her vested stake in a retirement account, for example, and get the equivalent value in current cash. 

Women Seeking Spousal Maintenance Are Support Obligees

Women seeking spousal support are called obligees because they are the party to whom the support obligation would be obliged and ordered. The valuable contribution of wives and mothers in the family home and the career development of their husbands are certainly valued in a divorce, and seen in recent news cases where the woman’s contribution value set a high bar. 

A judge in Spain made recent news when a man was ordered to pay his ex-wife a total of $215,000 for 25 years of housework. Arguing that being burdened by chores, the former wife and mother also wereresponsible for raising the couple’s two daughters and caring for the husbandall while keeping an “always impeccable” home. Unable to pursue her career, shewas focused on family duties while her husband built a successful business. Thewife’s contributions helped the husband build the business because he was nototherwise distracted by family work. A woman’s contributions to her husband’s ability to grow a business and career are valued and awarded in maintenance amounts, not only in Spain but in Texas, as well.

Women Can Be Spousal Support Obligors, Paying Support

In recent decades as more women have pursued education and highly compensated careers, more men were able to work more flexible jobs and take more active roles as fathers and primary caretakers for the children and home. In situations where ex-husbands were primary contributors to the home and family, and the wife experienced the benefit of business growth as a direct result, the ex-wife may be ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husband. The calculations and factors in determining a woman’s maintenance obligations to her ex-husband include the same factors in the equal application. 

Read about women paying alimony.

Learn more by visiting BarrowsFirm.com or by calling (817) 481-1583.