Spousal Maintenance in Same-Sex Divorce
While many same-sex couples have lived together as committed partners for decades, same-sex marriage only became legal in Texas and across the United States in 2015. Unfortunately, with the recognition of same-sex marriages, divorce among same-sex couples also became a reality. Same-sex married couples that decide to end their marriage face many of the same issues as opposite-sex couples, including whether either party is entitled to spousal maintenance, and it is critical that they understand their rights before proceeding. If you are in a same-sex marriage and you or your spouse plan to file for divorce, it is smart to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options with regard to spousal maintenance in same-sex divorce.Spousal Maintenance in Same-Sex Divorce Actions
In Texas, spousal maintenance is governed by the Texas Family Code (the Code), which applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages. Pursuant to the Code, to be eligible for spousal support, the requesting spouse must demonstrate that they lack sufficient property, including separate property, to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
Furthermore, the requesting spouse must also show that one of the following circumstances exists: they are the victim of family violence within two years of the filing of the divorce action or while it is pending; the marriage lasted for at least ten years, and they lack sufficient earning capacity to provide for their minimum reasonable needs; they have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from earning enough income to meet their minimum reasonable needs; or, the couple has a child with a physical or mental disability that requires the custodial parent to forego employment.
As same-sex marriages became legal in Texas relatively recently, many parties requesting spousal maintenance will need to show that either they are the victim of domestic violence or that they or their child meets the disability requirement in order to demonstrate that spousal maintenance is warranted.
If a court finds that it is necessary to award spousal maintenance to a party in a same-sex divorce action, they must then determine the duration and amount of such support. Texas courts take various factors into account when evaluating what constitutes an appropriate spousal maintenance award, including the duration of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, including their separate and community property, the education and employment skills of each spouse, as well as any time needed to acquire education or training to gain suitable employment, and the age, employment history, earning capacity, and physical and emotional health of the requesting spouse.
The duration of spousal maintenance depends on the grounds for awarding the support and the length of the marriage. If the spouse receiving alimony is disabled or is the primary caretaker for a disabled child, they may be awarded spousal maintenance indefinitely.
In all other instances, if the marriage lasted between ten and twenty years, the maximum period for which spousal maintenance can be awarded is ten years. For marriages lasting between twenty and thirty years, alimony can be granted for a maximum of seven years. In the case of marriages that lasted thirty years or longer, alimony can be awarded for up to ten years. The amount of maintenance that the paying party is obligated to provide is limited to the lesser of twenty percent of their average gross income, or $5,000.00 per month.Meet With a Trusted Dallas Lawyer
The Texas courts employ well-defined standards when evaluating whether to grant spousal support in same-sex divorce actions. If you are contemplating ending your same-sex marriage, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss how divorce may impact you financially. The trusted Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking a just outcome. Our main office is located in Dallas, and we are available to meet clients for appointments at our Collin-County office in Plano. We regularly handle same-sex divorce cases in Dallas, Rockwall, Richardson, Fort Worth, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, and Garland. We also represent people in family-law cases in cities in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can contact us via our online form or by calling 214.692.8200 to set up a confidential consultation.