What is Spousal Maintenance and When is it Awarded?


Spousal maintenance (which is commonly compared to other states’ alimony) is a payment from one spouse to another to help the other spouse meet their “minimum reasonable needs” after divorce. A Texas divorce court will determine what is considered to be a spouse’s “minimum reasonable needs,” and can take many factors into consideration when making this determination. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.001) Thus, whether a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis.


A spouse who is seeking spousal maintenance must first demonstrate one of the following to be considered for maintenance (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051.):

  • The marriage lasted 10 or more years;
  • The spouse requesting the maintenance is the caretaker of a disabled child, and this role as caretaker prevents the spouse from providing for their own minimum reasonable needs; or
  • The requesting spouse is unable to support themselves because of their own disability, which renders them incapable of providing for their own minimum reasonable needs.

The court must then decide whether or not the requesting spouse lacks the ability to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs by looking at relevant factors, including but not limited to (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.052):

  • Each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse’s financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;
  • The education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
  • the duration of the marriage;
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  • the effect on each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable’
  • acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditure or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
  • the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  • the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
  • the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
  • marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and
  • any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by § 71.004 of the Texas Family Code.

If spousal maintenance is granted by the court, generally the court may not require that the spouse who is ordered to pay spousal maintenance pay more than the lesser of 20% of his gross monthly income or $5,000. However, spouses going through a divorce can agree to contractual spousal maintenance that exceeds this amount, if they both desire to do so (and, in some cases, they may).

Requesting spousal maintenance in Texas is an uphill battle. Even when you meet the requirements set forth in the Texas Family Code, there are still presumptions in place to minimize the amount and duration of maintenance that you can be awarded. Therefore, it is imperative that you retain experienced attorneys, such as the knowledgeable attorneys at the McClure Law Group, to represent your interests. Call us today at (214) 692-8200 to set up a consultation.




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