If you were considering getting divorced in texas, you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse might be required to pay alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance. Generally, the spouse with a higher income will be required to pay the spouse with a lower income monthly compensation. Judges determine whether one party needs to pay spousal support based on several factors, including disparity and income, the standard of living during the marriage, and the length of the marriage. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions related to spousal support in texas.
- How Do I Get Spousal Support in Texas?
If you would like to obtain spousal support, your attorney can petition the court for spousal support. If you are pursuing an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on any spousal support issues. A judge will rule on spousal support after a hearing if you cannot agree on whether spousal support should be paid or the amount. Your attorney will be able to present evidence on your behalf showing why you should receive spousal support. Usually, courts only award spousal support when one spouse significantly outearns the other spouse, or other unique factors would make it fair and just for one spouse to pay spousal support. Additionally, in texas, the spouses will need to be married for a minimum of 10 years to qualify for spousal maintenance.
- What is the Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support?
Texas judges can award temporary or permanent spousal support. However, permanent spousal support does not mean that spousal support will last forever. Permanent spousal support means that the spousal support was ordered as the divorce judgment was entered. The length of time a party will be required to pay spousal support depends on multiple factors, including the length of the marriage.
- What is the Average Spousal Support Amount?
The amount of spousal support or alimony a party will receive depends on many factors, including the standard of living both parties enjoyed during the marriage. According to Texas guidelines related to spousal support, the maximum alimony amount is $5,000 per month or 20% of the higher-earning spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less. Even in cases in which one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse, this is the maximum amount a person can expect. However, you can negotiate your divorce settlement if you are a high-net-worth individual or couple.
- How Long Will I Receive Spousal Support?
Ultimately, the court will decide how long spousal support will continue. The judge ruling on the case has total discretion regarding the duration of spousal maintenance. The spousal support statute imposes some limits. For example, the court cannot order maintenance that will remain in effect for more than five years if the couple has been married for 10 years. The court cannot order spousal maintenance for more than seven years if the couple has been married for at least 20 years. Finally, the court may only order spousal maintenance for up to 10 years if the couple has been married for 30 or more years.
- Can the Amount of Spousal Support Change Over Time?
Yes, the amount of spousal support can be modified only under certain circumstances. The court paying spousal support can petition the court for a modification of spousal maintenance. They will need to present evidence of a material and substantial change to their income to modify the spousal support order successfully. For example, suppose a spouse earned $100,000 a year, was laid off, and accepted a job that pays $50,000 a year. This is a scenario in which the court would modify a spousal support agreement.
- I Have Been a Stay-at-Home Spouse or Parent, am I Expected to Go Back to Work?
If you have been a stay-at-home spouse or parent, you may be understandably concerned about your finances after the divorce. If you have been out of the workforce for 20 years to raise children, the court will still expect you to join the workforce again eventually. If you are capable of finding work that will provide for your minimum reasonable needs, you will be expected to take steps that will enable you to re-enter the workforce. Suppose you cannot obtain the education or skills necessary to rejoin the Workforce due to a disability or other factor. In that case, you can successfully ask a judge to order spousal support for longer.
- Do I Have to Include Spousal Support as Taxable Income in Texas?
If you are a spouse paying spousal support, you can deduct the amount of spousal support you have paid from your income taxes. The party receiving the spouse’s support must pay taxes on spousal support income.
- I am Going to Declare Bankruptcy. Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?
Going through a divorce can be extremely straining on a financial level. If you are considering pursuing bankruptcy, it is important to remember that you will still be required to pay spousal maintenance if it has been ordered by the court.
- My Ex-Spouse is Not Paying Spousal Support. How Do I Enforce it?
If your ex-spouse has been ordered to pay spousal support and is not doing so, you can petition the court to enforce the spousal support issue. If your spouse continues to refuse to comply with the court order, the court does have the power to garnish his or her wages. The best thing you can do if you are in this situation is to discuss your case with an experienced attorney who can help you pursue the spousal support to which you are entitled.
- I Would Rather Receive a Lump Sum than Monthly Payments. How Do I Do That?
Spousal support can be frustrating because it keeps the recipient in an ongoing financial relationship with his or her ex-spouse. Obtaining a lump sum payment instead of monthly spousal support can allow you to manage and invest your money as you see fit.
Discuss Your Alimony Case with a Skilled Texas Divorce Attorney
Spousal support can be complicated, but having an experienced attorney on your side advocating for you can make the process go as smoothly as possible. Lead attorney Vonda Covington Understands how important spousal support issues can be in divorce cases. She will tirelessly advocate for you throughout your case, answering any questions you have and helping you understand the process. Contact Covington Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your rights.