When you first got married, you were hopeful about the bright future ahead. You made big plans with your spouse, and you followed through with them. Maybe you had children and bought a home together. Your spouse supported you in your career to ensure you excelled, and/or they watched the kids while you went to work, putting their own career on hold in the meantime.
Now that you feel your relationship is over, you’re considering getting divorced or are already going through the divorce process. Perhaps you’re the one who supported your partner throughout their career and stayed at home watching the kids or put your own career progress on the backburner. Either way, upon divorce, a judge could order that spousal maintenance – also known as alimony – be paid out.
Learning about spousal maintenance and how it may affect your life, as well as the life of your ex-spouse, is important when navigating the divorce process.
When getting a divorce, assets and liabilities will be divided, child custody/support will be worked out if there are any children in the picture and the amount of spousal maintenance (if there is any) will be determined.
Spousal maintenance is different from child custody/support agreements as well as the division of assets and liabilities. The money goes to the person who put their own work on hold to take care of family and household duties, so it is up to them to request it. They will either be paid on a monthly basis or in a lump sum.
The theory is that since they weren’t working all those years, it’s going to be tough for them to transition back into the workplace and get a well-paying job. For instance, maybe a spouse majored in computer science 10 years ago, but today, you need much more training to succeed in that field. Another spouse might have been an executive at a large corporation before having kids, but would have to go back to square one and become an assistant when they entered the workforce again. All of this is taken into consideration when the court comes up with the spousal maintenance guidelines.
Spousal maintenance doesn’t go on forever with no end. If there was domestic violence, it could last five years, no matter how long the couple was married. In a non-domestic violence case, if a couple was married 10 to 20 years, it will last five years maximum. It would go up to seven years if they were married 20 to 30 years, and finally, 10 years if they were married 30 or more years.
If either spouse dies or the supported spouse gets married or cohabitates with another person in a romantic way, then their spousal maintenance would end.
Some other factors that would go into determining spousal maintenance include if the spouse seeking it can’t support themselves due to a mental or physical disability or the spouse seeking it is the custodial parent of a child who needs considerable care because they have a mental or physical disability. If the latter is the case, then the parent has to show how caring for their disabled child takes up so much time that they can’t support themselves with a job.
When determining the details of how a spouse will get spousal maintenance, a court will look at a number of factors, like each spouse’s education level and employment skills, how long the marriage lasted, the property each spouse brought into their marriage, any marital misconduct like cruel treatment and adultery and the employment history, age, earning ability and emotional and physical wellbeing of the spouse who is seeking maintenance.
In terms of how much spousal maintenance a spouse could receive, it varies based upon income. The paying spouse could be ordered to pay to the supported spouse 20% of their average gross monthly income or $5,000.00, whichever is less. Gross monthly income includes salary, income from retirement, tips, investments, properties, etc. As of January 1, 2019, spousal maintenance isn’t deemed income for the supported spouse or as a tax deduction for the paying spouse.
Either spouse can request to change spousal maintenance at any time. Maybe the payer lost their job and they need to lower the monthly amount, or the supported spouse enters a romantic relationship and starts living with their new significant other. In those cases, they would have to go to the court to request a spousal support modification. Until the court comes out with a decision, however, spousal support must be maintained, or else they’re in violation of the order.
A Houston spousal maintenance attorney can help when you’re just starting your divorce proceedings, when you’re in the middle of them or if you ever need to modify your spousal maintenance, whether you’re paying it or you’re the supported spouse.
You’ll need a lawyer for a few reasons. If your spouse is not paying anymore, then an attorney can step in and help. Or, if you’re in the middle of your divorce, an attorney can give you some peace of mind by handling the spousal maintenance no matter what side you’re on. Perhaps you’re sweating over how much you’ll have to pay, or you’re afraid you won’t get enough as the supported spouse. Your attorney will be there to guide you and help you feel better about the situation.
A spousal maintenance attorney can also help with factors like:
When you’re searching for a spousal maintenance attorney in Texas, you want to look for someone with several years of experience who will listen to you and help you get what you deserve. In this challenging time, you need to focus on yourself and your children, if you’re a parent, which means you likely don’t have the energy and patience to navigate Texas’ legal system and ensure your spousal maintenance payment will be suitable for your lifestyle.
To learn more about what the experienced spousal maintenance attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC can do for you, reach out to us today. You can schedule your consultation and determine if you’d like to work with us on your case. We’re standing by and ready to help you with all your spousal maintenance needs.
If you are moving through the divorce process or are contemplating filing for divorce, we encourage you to get in touch with a Houston spousal maintenance attorney from our firm right away. At Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC, our legal team is dedicated to safeguarding the rights of those moving through difficult family law matters. Because we understand these types of situations can be highly complex, we work diligently to handle every aspect of your case. Don’t wait to retain the legal advocacy you need.
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