Texas is one of the few states which does not necessarily have set guidelines for providing spousal support. While spousal support and alimony payments were often considered a routine part of divorce in most states. However, since this point in time, many states have decided to dispose of the need for alimony payments, although Texas was one state which never saw a need for such payments. Community property states often do not allow for alimony payments or spousal maintenance due to the division of property.
The allowance of post-divorce alimony was considered to be unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution since it any alimony payment would stem from the paying spouse’s separate property (the post-divorce earnings). However, Texas courts have allowed temporary support payments during the initial stages of divorce. At this point, spouses who have been dependent on the paying spouse may be entitled to receive ongoing support to cover any bills and necessary expenses for themselves and their children. Texas allows this type of spousal support since the spouses are technically still married and are therefore each entitled to a portion of the community estate.
While Texas prohibits alimony payments, Texas does provide for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is an award which is allowed by the court during divorce proceedings which involves periodic payments from one spouse to the other. However, it is often very difficult to establish a need for spousal support, and there is often a presumption against spousal maintenance. Most courts award spousal maintenance in very unique situations, and look at the following in considering spousal maintenance:
- Length of the marriage
- Disability of either spouse
- Income of both spouses
A court may order maintenance only in the following situations:
- One spouse was convicted or received deferred adjudication for family violence and the offense occurred within 2 years of the divorce suit; or
- The spouses were married more than 10 years and the spouse who is requesting maintenance lacks sufficient funds to provide for reasonable needs and is unable to support themselves due to a physical or mental disability, or has to care for a child of the marriage that requires substantial care and supervision; or lacks the earning capability to provide minimum reasonable needs.
However, within the state, there is a strong presumption against spousal maintenance and therefore, it is important that both spouses consult with attorneys prior to divorce proceedings. The general rule is that courts cannot issue spousal maintenance which lasts more than 3 years after the date of the divorce and should limit the maintenance to provide for the receiving spouse’s minimal needs. Additionally, the court may not order spousal maintenance which is more than $2,500 per month.
Courts can also agree to a contractual agreement for payment, which occurs when both spouses agree to set terms where one spouse provides for ongoing periodic payments or a lump sum payment to the other spouse. However, this is not considered alimony, and it cannot be enforced by contempt. Therefore, the remedy for the enforcement of the contractual obligation must be brought under contract law (rather than under family law).
Malley Law Firm | Houston Spousal Support Attorney
If you are going through a divorce regarding the provisions of spousal support, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of the Malley Law Firm. Spousal support is limited in Texas, but is often necessary when you have devoted your life to the marriage and raising children. Contact our Beaumont or Houston offices today for your initial free consultation.