Texas Spousal Support – Post Divorce Maintenance

November 2nd, 2009

Under Section 8.051 of the Texas Family Code, a court shall order maintenance for either spouse only if:

1. the spouse for whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Title 4 and the offense occurred:
a. within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of marriage is filed; or
b. while the suit is pending; or
2. the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code, to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054, and the spouse seeking maintenance:
a. is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
b. is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or
c. clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054.

Section 8.052 of the Texas Family Code states that a court shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic spousal maintenance payments by considering all relevant factors, including the following:

1. the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse’s ability to meet the spouse’s needs independently;
2. the educational and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of that education or training, and the feasibility of that education or training;
3. the duration of the marriage;
4. the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
5. the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that spouse’s personal needs and to provide periodic child support payments, if applicable, while meeting the personal needs of the spouse seeking maintenance;
6. acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
7. the comparative financial resources of the spouse, including medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits, and the separate property of each spouse;
8. the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
9. the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
10. the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
11. marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
12. the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling as provided by Chapter 304, Labor Code.

Section 8.053 states that except as provided by Subsection (b), it is presumed that maintenance under Section 8.051(2) is not warranted unless the spouse seeking maintenance has exercised diligence in:

1. seeking suitable employment; or
2. developing the necessary skills to become self-supporting during a period of separation and during the time the suit for dissolution of the marriage is pending.

This section does not apply to a spouse who is not able to satisfy the presumption in Subsection (a) because the spouse:

1. has an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
2. is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home.

Except as provided in subsection (b), a court:

1. may not order maintenance that remains in effect for more than three years after the date of the order; and
2. shall limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to meet the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs by obtaining appropriate employment or developing an appropriate skill, unless the ability of the spouse to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs through employment is substantially or totally diminished because of:
a. physical or mental disability;
b. duties as the custodian of an infant or young child; or
c. another compelling impediment to gainful employment.

If a spouse seeking maintenance is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because the spouse has an incapacitating physical or mental disability or because the spouse is the Custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who has a physical or mental disability, the court may order maintenance for as long as the disability continues. 

A court may not order maintenance that requires an obligor to pay monthly more than the lesser of:

1. $2,500; or
2. 20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.

The court shall set the amount that an obligor is required to pay in a maintenance order to provide for the minimum reasonable needs of the oblige, considering employment or property received in the dissolution of the marriage or otherwise owned by the oblige that contributes to the minimum reasonable needs of the oblige. 

Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability compensation, social security benefits and disability benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits are excluded from maintenance.

Serving clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.