A trial court may order Texas spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as “spousal support” or “alimony,” if certain criteria are met pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051.. If the marriage lasted at least 10 years, a court may order spousal maintenance to a spouse who does not have sufficient property or earning ability to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051(2)(B). A court may also award spousal maintenance to a spouse who does not have sufficient property and is not able to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs due to their own incapacitating disability or the disability of the parties’ child.
Husband Order to Pay Spousal Maintenance
A husband recently challenged an order requiring him to pay spousal maintenance, arguing the wife had been awarded sufficient property to meet her reasonable minimum needs. The wife petitioned for divorce after nearly thirteen years of marriage. The trial court ordered the husband to pay $2,500 in monthly spousal support for two years and he appealed.
The marriage had lasted for more than 10 years, so the wife was eligible to pursue spousal maintenance if she did not have sufficient property or the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs. The trial court had awarded her assets worth $830,871.60 and she estimated her expenses to be $6,791 per month.
Appeals Court Determines Whether Wife had Sufficient Property
In determining if the wife had sufficient property to meet her minimum reasonable needs, the appeals court subtracted the value of a SEP IRA fund. Taxes and penalties would apply to withdrawals and there was nothing in the record indicating to what extent funds were immediately accessible without consequences. The appeals court also pointed out that a spouse is not required to liquidate all their assets or spend down long-term assets to meet their needs.
The appeals court also subtracted the liabilities the court assigned to the wife. After the liabilities and the value of the SEP IRA were subtracted, the wife still had property worth $414,081.98 remaining. The appeals court noted this amounted to about five years of her monthly expenses.
Appeals Court Finds Spousal Maintenance not Warranted
The appeals court determined that the evidence did not support a finding that spousal maintenance was needed to provide for the wife’s minimum reasonable needs. She had been awarded sufficient property to meet those needs. Because the evidence was not legally sufficient to support the finding, the maintenance award was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion.
The appeals court modified the decree to remove the spousal maintenance award and affirmed the modified judgment.
Is Your Spouse Seeking Spousal Maintenance from You? Call McClure Law Group Today.
While spousal maintenance is appropriate in some cases, certain criteria must be met for the court to order it. The spouse seeking maintenance must generally show they do not have sufficient property or earning ability for their minimum reasonable needs. However, the parties may also agree to spousal maintenance. Whether you are seeking or opposing spousal maintenance, an experienced Texas spousal maintenance attorney can help you. Call the offices of McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 to set up a consultation.