Articles Posted in Spousal Support

The purpose of Texas spousal maintenance is to give a spouse temporary rehabilitative support after deterioration of their ability to support themselves while taking care of the home and family during the marriage. Spousal maintenance is only available if the spouse meets certain statutory requirements.  A former husband recently challenged a spousal maintenance award.

The wife petitioned for divorce after about 28 years of marriage and sought spousal maintenance.  In the final decree, the trial court ordered the husband to pay her $2,000 per month for five years.

The husband appealed, challenging the wife’s eligibility, as well as the amount and duration of maintenance ordered.  The wife argued there was an agreed decree and the husband had waived his right to challenge it.

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A spouse paying Texas spousal maintenance may seek modification if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, which may include significant change in their income.  In a recent case, a former husband challenged a modification award based on the modified amount of maintenance as well as the court’s denial of his request to apply the modification retroactively.

The parties’ 2011 Agreed Final Divorce Decree ordered the husband to pay $1,150 in monthly spousal maintenance until the wife remarried or died or until her disability was removed or the trial court otherwise rendered a new order.  The husband earned about $80,000 per year at the time.

Motion for Modification

The husband petitioned for modification in November after he retired the previous June.  The court granted the modification in an order signed in June 2019, although the hearing occurred in May 2016.  The court granted the husband’s motion for reconsideration and vacated the order.

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Trial courts are permitted to award Texas spousal maintenance in only limited circumstances.  If the spouse meets the eligibility requirements for maintenance, the court must consider a number of factors to determine the nature, amount, and duration.  Tex. Fam. Code § 8.052. Spousal maintenance is limited to the lesser of $5,000.00 or 20% of the spouse’s average monthly gross income. Certain items are excluded from “gross income,” including service-connected Veterans Affairs disability payments, supplemental security income (“SSI”), social security benefits, or disability benefits. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.055.  A husband recently challenged an order requiring him to pay spousal maintenance.

Wife Seeks Spousal Maintenance

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties got married in 2006 and the wife filed for divorce in 2019.  The wife sought spousal maintenance pursuant to Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code and based on “contractual alimony.” She testified she was unable to work due to medical issues.  She said she lived with her daughter and did not have any income.

The wife testified the husband received $3,809.02 monthly from the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and $816 per month in social security.  She also testified that he also earned income by performing in a band.  She said he was paid under the table and was unable to estimate how much he earned.

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Pursuant to Texas Fam. Code § 8.051, the court may award Texas spousal maintenance to a spouse who lacks sufficient resources to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs if the other spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constituted an act of family violence against the spouse or the spouse’s child and the offense occurred within two years before the divorce case was filed or while it was pending.  Additionally, the court may award maintenance to a spouse who lacks sufficient resources to provide for their own minimum needs if they: are unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs due to an incapacitating disability; lack the ability to earn sufficient income after being married to the other spouse for at least 10 years; or are the custodian of the parties’ child with a disability who requires substantial care and supervision that prevents the custodial parent from earning sufficient income.  A husband recently appealed a spousal maintenance award, arguing there was insufficient evidence that the wife was eligible for maintenance.

Wife Seeks Spousal Maintenance

The husband petitioned for divorce after seven years of marriage, alleging insupportability.  He requested the court to appoint the parties joint managing conservators of their child.

The wife also alleged the marriage was insupportable, but also alleged cruel treatment and “a history or pattern of committing family violence” by the husband.  She alleged she would not have adequate resources to meet her minimum reasonable needs and sought spousal maintenance.  She claimed she was eligible to receive spousal maintenance as a result of “domestic violence.”

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A Texas divorce case can become more complicated for spouses with a child with complex medical needs.  In addition to addressing issues related to custody and decision-making, the divorce may also have to address spousal maintenance for the child’s primary caregiver.  In a recent case, a husband appealed an unequal property division and a spousal maintenance award in favor of the wife, who acted as primary caregiver for the children.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties had preterm triplets, one of whom was a “medically fragile child,” “Andy.”  The wife stopped working outside the home and became their primary caregiver.

The husband filed for divorce in 2019.  The wife subsequently negotiated a job with the non-profit she co-founded.

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iStock-531351317-300x200Texas spousal maintenance is intended to provide “temporary and rehabilitative” support for a spouse who does not have the ability or assets to support themselves or whose ability to do so has deteriorated while they were engaged in homemaking activities.  Courts may award spousal maintenance only in limited circumstances if the parties meet the requirements under the Texas Family Code.

Tex. Fam. Code § 8.053 provides there is a rebuttable presumption that maintenance is not warranted pursuant to Section 8.051(2)(B) unless the spouse exercised diligence in earning sufficient income to provide for their reasonable needs, or in developing the necessary skills to provide for their reasonable needs during separation and while the divorce case is pending.  Even if a spouse otherwise qualifies under Section 8.051(2)(B), they must either show that they exercised diligence or rebut the presumption that maintenance is not warranted.

A husband recently challenged a spousal maintenance award in favor of the wife and an order to pay a reimbursement claim to the community estate based on improvements made to his separate property.

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Texas spousal maintenance is intended to be temporary and rehabilitative. A trial court can only award spousal maintenance if the party seeking it meets certain requirements, which depend on the parties’ circumstances. A husband recently challenged a trial court’s award spousal maintenance to the wife for 81 months.

According to the appeals court, the parties got married in 2012 and had three children together.  The husband worked primarily in law enforcement, while the wife was a homemaker.  They separated in February 2021 and the husband moved out.  He petitioned for divorce in March.  The wife requested a disproportionate share of the community estate and spousal maintenance.

The trial court awarded the wife the home and a disproportionate share of the assets.  It also ordered the husband to pay her $1,200 in monthly spousal maintenance for 81 months.  The husband appealed the order for maintenance.

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iStock-1331374129-300x200Texas spousal maintenance is intended to give temporary support to a spouse whose ability to support themselves has diminished and whose assets are insufficient to support them.  After 10 years of marriage, a spouse who shows they lack sufficient property or the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs” may be entitled to spousal maintenance.  Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051(2)(B).  They must, however, overcome the rebuttable presumption that maintenance is not warranted by showing they have exercised diligence in earning sufficient income to provide for their reasonable needs or developing the necessary skills to do so during separation and the pendency of the divorce case.  Tex. Fam. Code 8.053. In a recent case, a wife appealed a trial court’s denial of her request for spousal maintenance.

The appeals court’s opinion stated the parties got married in 2009 and separated in 2018.  The husband lived in Texas and the wife lived in a vacation condominium they bought in Illinois in 2018.  The husband petitioned for divorce in 2019 and the final hearing occurred in February 2021.

The husband requested an equal property division and no spousal maintenance.

The wife asked for a 60/40 split of the assets and $5,000 per month in spousal maintenance for five years. She had not worked during the marriage or during the divorce case.  Her mother testified she loaned her $37,500 during the separation.  The husband had also transferred about $50,000 worth of assets to the wife during the case.  The wife testified her monthly living expenses were about $12,000.  She had last worked as a medication aide in 2008.  She testified she previously worked as a certified nursing assistant but did not want to do so again.  She testified her dental assistance certification did not transfer to Illinois. She also testified she had photography certifications but had not tried to earn income from them.  She started a real estate course in 2019, but had not passed part of the test.  She also admitted she had “not done anything” to become employed since the divorce case commenced.  She said businesses were closed due to the pandemic and she did not have time to seek employment due to the divorce case.

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iStock-545456068-300x184A Texas court may award spousal maintenance in certain circumstances, including when a spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable minimum needs and is unable to earn enough income to provide for those minimum reasonable needs due to an incapacitating disability.  Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051.  Spousal support is generally limited based on the length of the marriage, but may be indefinite while the spouse is unable to support himself or herself because of a disability.  Tex. Fam. Code § 8.054(b).

A husband recently challenged a spousal maintenance award.  According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties had been married for about eight years and had a child together when the husband filed for divorce.  The wife requested spousal maintenance.

Evidence Presented at Trial Regarding Spousal-Maintenance Request

The wife, the husband, and the husband’s mother all testified at trial.  The wife testified about her work history, educational background, and health issues.  She testified that she received daily dialysis, which required her to be connected to a machine for as much as 10 hours.  She could, however, do the dialysis at home where she could move around the house and care for the child.

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iStock-483611874-300x200Texas spousal maintenance is allowed only in limited circumstances, including when the spouse pursuing maintenance is not able to earn sufficient income to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs due to a disability, is not able to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs after at least ten years marriage, or is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs because they are the custodian to the parties’ child who has a disability.  The court may also award maintenance in certain situations involving domestic violence.  TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 8.051.

Husband Ordered to Pay Spousal Maintenance

In a recent case, a husband appealed an order awarding spousal maintenance to the wife, arguing there was insufficient evidence supporting it.  The parties had been married nearly 13 years when the wife petitioned for divorce.  She sought spousal maintenance for a reasonable period after the divorce and the court awarded support for three years.  The husband appealed.

According to the appeals court, the trial court had ordered the husband to pay $1,458.24 in monthly child support plus all the child’s insurance.    She testified she earned $1,700-$1,800 per two-week pay period working about 32 hours per week.  She said she previously earned $35 to $36 per hour at other jobs. She said her employer was only open four days per week so she was not able to increase her hours.

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