Spousal maintenance, money paid to a former spouse after a divorce, is sometimes referred to as alimony. In Texas, when the court orders that one spouse make payments to another, this is referred to as court-ordered spousal maintenance. A spouse can ask for post-divorce support from the other during a divorce proceeding and private alimony arrangements are sometimes made between the parties. But in order to be granted court-ordered spousal maintenance, certain conditions must apply.
Who Can Qualify for Spousal Maintenance?
To be eligible to receive court-ordered spousal maintenance, the spouse asking for maintenance payments must lack sufficient property after the divorce to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs, and one of the following two situations must apply:
- The paying spouse must have been convicted of (or received deferred adjudication for) domestic violence charges within two years of the divorce’s filing or while the divorce suit is taking place; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance must meet the following requirements.
- They were married to the person from whom they’re requesting support for at least 10 years.
- They don’t have enough property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
- They have a mental or physical disability that keeps them from working or are the primary caregiver of a disabled child of the marriage.
Spouses seeking maintenance for reason two must prove they have made a reasonable effort to find work or provide evidence of their disability.
How Much Might They Receive?
The maximum monthly amount for spousal maintenance is set by a judge and is the lesser of $5,000 or 20 percent of the payer’s overall gross monthly income. How long the spouse is required to pay is set by the length of the marriage, the type of disability involved and whether there was domestic violence.
If the couple was married for 10 years or there was a domestic violence conviction, spousal maintenance will typically continue for five years after the divorce. When a couple was married for 20 years or more, the judge can extend that time to seven years. If the two divorced after 30 years of marriage, a spouse might receive 10 years of support.
Sometimes the judge orders support to continue indefinitely. If a spouse has a severe disability that permanently prevents him or her from providing their own support or if they will have ongoing care of a disabled child, Texas Family Code often requires that the payer continue to provide.
Recent Tax Changes
Spousal support impacts taxes for both spouses. Payments are tax deductions for the payer and the spouse receiving funds must report it as income. In 2017, Congress signed a bill that makes agreements signed after 2017 no longer able to use alimony as a tax deduction or source of income. The effective date was later moved to divorces completed after December 31 of 2018. The old law still governs divorces completed up to January 1, 2019.
During divorce, be sure you have a dependable family law attorney to represent your personal and financial interests. Get the support you need when you schedule a consultation with Bennett Weston today.