Many people believe that if they decide to end their marriage, either they or their spouse will be entitled to alimony. In Texas, alimony, which is referred to as spousal maintenance, is only granted in limited circumstances. In cases in which alimony is awarded, however, it can drastically affect the financial status of both parties. If you or your spouse are considering pursuing a divorce, a seasoned Dallas divorce lawyer can advise you as to the impact that ending your marriage may have on you financially, and help you fight to protect your rights and assets. At McClure Law Group, we are mindful of the importance of obtaining an outcome that is favorable to you financially, and will work tirelessly to help you pursue a just result.Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance is granted infrequently in Texas, but is available in cases in which the spouse seeking maintenance meets specific criteria. For example, a person may be eligible for maintenance if his or her spouse was either convicted of a criminal act that is considered an act of family violence, or received a deferred adjudication for such an offense. Under these circumstances, spousal maintenance is only available in cases in which the offense was committed either against the person seeking maintenance or his or her child, within two years of when the divorce action was filed, or while the divorce is pending. The length of the marriage does not matter in cases in which spousal maintenance is sought due to a criminal act that constitutes family violence.
A person may also be eligible to receive spousal maintenance if he or she cannot earn adequate income to provide for his or her reasonable needs due to a debilitating mental or physical disorder, or if the marriage has lasted 10 or more years and the person seeking maintenance lacks the ability to earn an income. Spousal maintenance may also be granted where one spouse is the primary caretaker of the parties’ child, if the child requires significant care and supervision due to a physical or mental impairment, thus preventing the spouse from earning an income. A person may also be obligated to provide spousal maintenance based on a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. The courts review requests for spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis.Factors Weighed in Determining Whether to Award Spousal Maintenance
In determining whether spousal maintenance is warranted, the court will weigh all relevant factors, including the education of each spouse and his or her employment skills, each spouse’s ability to provide for his or her own needs independently, the length of the marriage, and the age, earning capacity, and employment history of the spouse seeking maintenance. If the party seeking maintenance has not diligently sought employment that would provide a sufficient income to provide for his or her needs or attempted to develop the skills necessary to provide for his or her own needs, it is presumed that he or she is not entitled to maintenance. The presumption is rebuttable, however, and a knowledgeable divorce lawyer can assist you if this issue arises in your case.Amount and Duration of Spousal Maintenance
Even if a court awards one spouse maintenance, the maintenance will be limited in both duration and amount by the terms set forth under Texas law. If a couple was married for less than 10 years and maintenance was granted due to one spouse’s commission of a criminal offense that constitutes family violence, or if the couple was married for 10 to 20 years, maintenance is limited to five years. If a couple was married from 20up to 30 years, maintenance may be granted for up to seven years. Lastly, if a couple was married 30 years or more, maintenance is limited to 10 years. Courts are not permitted to grant maintenance that is more than the lesser of $5,000.00 per month or 20 percent of the average monthly gross income of the person paying maintenance.Speak with a Skillful Dallas Lawyer Regarding Your Divorce Case
Divorce can not only be emotionally stressful, but it can also lead to financial hardship for both parties. If you wish to end your marriage or were served with papers instituting a divorce, a seasoned divorce attorney can review your case and your options for protecting your financial future. At the McClure Law Group, our dedicated legal team will strive diligently to help you assert your rights. We have a main office in Dallas, and a second office in Plano, Collin County where we are available by appointment. We represent people in divorce actions in Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving, Garland, Richardson, McKinney, Frisco, and Rockwall. We also assist parties with family law issues throughout Dallas, Grayson, Denton, Tarrant, Collin, and Rockwall Counties. We can be reached through our online form or at 214.692.8200 to set up a meeting to discuss your family law needs.