Spousal Maintenance: Can You Get It/Do You Owe It
Spousal maintenance, or what many consider alimony, is relatively new in Texas, which was one of the last states to allow for maintenance. Most often spousal maintenance is needed to allow a person who has traditionally not worked during the marriage to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
Generally, whether a person will receive or pay maintenance depends on whether, “the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including separate property, on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.” Additional requirements may include a finding of family violence, a spouse with an incapacitating physical or mental disability who is unable to earn sufficient income, a spouse that has been married for 10 years and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income, or a spouse that is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income.
The Texas Family Code does not define “minimum reasonable needs”, so even though the Code outlines the eligibility requirements, each case is fact specific and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, the Family Code does list some, but not all, of the factors the court can consider in awarding maintenance such as the spouse’s financial resources, education and employment skills, the time necessary to acquire an education, the length of the marriage, age, employment history, whether the spouse received child support, and marital misconduct. The court has discretion on whether to award spousal maintenance but will ultimately make the decision based on the need for and ability to pay of both spouses. The attorneys at McCleskey will continue to monitor the Texas Family Code regarding spousal maintenance and are available to help clients find answers to their questions about this and other family law matters.