Considering divorce may lead to questions about spousal support

Posted on August 4, 2014

by mmconnollylaw

Couples in Texas that are considering divorce may be concerned about their ability to cope financially afterward. It may be beneficial to gain some knowledge related to the state laws about spousal support. This is a complicated part of family law, and there are various aspects to consider in determining eligibility of a spouse and the duration of the alimony payments following divorce.

Statutes of 1995 were amended in 2011, and while previous laws required couples to have been married for 10 years or longer to be eligible for maintenance, the revised legislation takes various aspects into consideration, regardless of the length of the marriage. Aspects considered currently include the possible inability of a disabled spouse to support herself or himself or the spouse’s inability to obtain employment due to the lack of skills or education. In addition, the court may consider awarding spousal support to a custodial parent who has a child who requires special care.

When the court considers the duration of maintenance to be paid, it will consider a reasonable time for the requesting spouse to obtain employment to provide for minimum needs. This is where the duration of the couple’s marriage comes into play, in addition to the considerations mentioned above. The court will allow the minimum reasonable time, which commonly boils down to a period of between 5 and 10 years.

Texas couples may be interested in knowing that they could agree to a maintenance plan — called contractual maintenance — prior to going to divorce court. By reaching such an agreement, the court will not impose any limits on a spouse’s eligibility, nor the amount or duration of spousal support. Couples may benefit from obtaining counsel in order to ensure a legal agreement that will not be challenged in court in the event of future disputes.