In a divorce, sometimes a party will be able to qualify to receive periodic support payments from their spouse post-divorce. In Texas, this is characterized as spousal maintenance. To be eligible for spousal maintenance, a spouse must establish certain criteria to the court to receive these payments.
First, the spouse receiving maintenance must show that, after the dissolution of the marriage, they will lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Minimum reasonable needs typically mean essentials like the mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, food, and clothing.
Next, the spouse will need to show that they lack sufficient property to pay these expenses. The court will look at things like the spouse’s income, the spouse’s separate property, and the property awarded to the spouse in the final decree of divorce. Further, the spouse will need to show that they have made efforts to find reasonable employment or procure income sufficient to meet their needs.
Just because a spouse can meet these three elements, there still remain statutory bases for maintenance that a spouse must meet to be eligible. One basis is a marriage that has lasted for 10 years or longer. If a marriage has lasted for 10 years or greater, then a spouse can possibly receive up to 5 years of spousal maintenance. If a marriage has lasted for 20 years or greater, then a spouse can receive up to 7 years of spousal maintenance. If a marriage has lasted for 30 years or longer, then a spouse can receive up to 10 years of spousal maintenance. The amount of the payments will be limited to the lesser of $5,000.00 or 20% of the payor’s average gross income per month.
This is not to say that spousal maintenance payments will be for the maximum duration or maximum amount, but will rather be for a period of time to allow the receiving spouse to gain appropriate employment to meet their minimum reasonable needs and will be for an amount that is needed to meet these same needs.
If you are concerned about providing for yourself post-divorce, you are going to need to consider whether you qualify for spousal maintenance. This may be the best way to help you transition to providing for yourself after a divorce without causing you to experience undue hardship.