Spousal Maintenance 101: Everything You Need To Know 1

Spousal maintenance is something that you might need to think about if you are contemplating divorcing your spouse.

If you are thinking of filing for divorce or if you are already in the middle of one because your spouse had already gone ahead and filed for it, your major and immediate concerns would surely include your finances.

If you have children and properties, these would be on your priority list too, for sure. Matters regarding your children would definitely make it on top of the list.

If you don’t have enough knowledge regarding the divorce, it’s understandable why you would feel uncertainty in all levels.

Financial uncertainty is probably the worst since you might even have to consider stepping down a few up to several notches from your current level of lifestyle.

You can feel anxious and intimidated – not to mention scared. You might be relieved to know that you don’t really have to go through your divorce with these fears.

You can obtain more information about how the laws in Texas works regarding divorce cases and you can then relate what you will have known to your own divorce case.

Of course, to make things easier for yourself, you can also choose to hire a skilled family law attorney who can give you straightforward counsel regarding everything you need to know to safeguard your now-uncertain future post-divorce.

These options will help you protect yourself and your family from the vast unknown that you will be subjected to after your divorce.

Spousal maintenance: The Basic Questions

1. Can you ask a judge to make your spouse pay for spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance basically means alimony. In Texas, the law does not make it easy for a spouse to receive alimony in a divorce. In case you’re not yet familiar with alimony or spousal maintenance, it is like child support, but for a spouse.

If a spouse has to pay alimony, it will be a certain amount of money that will have to be paid for a certain period. Most of the time, the spouse who worries about spousal maintenance or having to pay alimony is the spouse who is the breadwinner in the family.

This concern arises in situations where a couple undergoes a divorce and only one spouse is working and the other is a stay-at-home spouse. If your divorce is filed in a court in Texas, you generally don’t really have to worry about having to pay spousal maintenance.

2. How can a spouse be awarded spousal maintenance?

There are few factors that can cause a spouse to have to pay for alimony. One of which is when the other spouse lacks the financial abilities to provide himself or herself for even the most basic needs. These needs will, of course, be defined by the court.

The judge will decide what the minimum basic things the spouse asking for spousal maintenance will need in the future regarding food, clothing, and shelter. The judge will also consider the skills and abilities of the spouse to generate an income post-divorce as well as the possible monthly expenses.

Alimony might also need to be awarded if the other spouse has a disability that hinders income generation. This is especially true if the disabled spouse is also the primary conservator of the child after the divorce.

3. How much spousal maintenance will you have to pay and for how long?

If the judge decides that alimony needs to be awarded to your spouse after the divorce, you will have to pay it for a certain duration of time depending on how long you’ve been married.

Obviously, you’re not supposed to pay it forever. For instance, if you have been married more than ten years but less than twenty, the spousal maintenance cap is at 5 years.

If you have been married for more than 20 years but less than thirty years, the maximum limit you will have to provide alimony is 7 years. Take note that the court does not always award the maximum limit where spousal maintenance is concerned.

In most cases, the judge will expect the spouse that will be awarded alimony to be able to support himself or herself after a certain number of years. In terms of how much the judge should award your spouse for spousal maintenance, it should be 20% of your gross income monthly and should be under the $5000 limit.

These figures can help you estimate how much you’d have to pay for alimony if the court finds your spouse eligible for it.

You might see novels, movies and television shows tackling the issue of spousal maintenance and you might even know someone who has been through it.

However, the tidbits of information you gain from these mini-exposures might not be enough to equip you for your actual encounter with alimony issues in court.

Whether you are the spouse requesting for alimony to be paid or whether you are the spouse who is requested to pay, it would be in your best interests to hire a skilled and experienced family law attorney to help you out with the issues surrounding your divorce case

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at