The concept of alimony is often associated with divorce. In Texas, alimony is called spousal maintenance or spousal support, and the laws surrounding this element of a divorce can be challenging. This is one of the reasons why working with Houston’s top divorce attorney is so crucial. A lawyer will look out for your best interests and help you achieve all of your divorce goals.

Ask a Divorce Attorney: Will I Have to Pay Spousal Support?

In Texas, spousal support is not considered mandatory. This means that your spouse will need to request spousal support during the divorce process. From there, a family court judge will analyze elements of each spouse’s financial ability, the length of the marriage, and other factors to assess whether the conditions for spousal support are met.

If you think spousal support may be involved in your case, you will need to work with Houston’s top divorce attorney to help you understand these payment arrangements. For example, a lawyer can help you understand the qualifications for spousal support, how much spousal support payments may be, and how long spousal support payments will last.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?

The spouse requesting spousal support in Texas must meet several qualifications, such as not possessing sufficient property or assets to provide for minimum needs, once the divorce is finalized. For example, a spouse who does not have work experience because they devoted time to child care may meet this qualification.  If a marriage lasts for ten years or more, spousal support is more likely to be granted.

Additionally, the spouse who will be ordered to make spousal support payments may also need to meet qualifications. Specifically, the paying spouse must have a conviction or deferred adjudication for family violence during the marriage or while the divorce was pending. If this qualification isn’t met, then the requesting spouse will need to prove they are unable to earn sufficient income.

Can a Lawyer Estimate Spousal Support Payments?

A lawyer may be able to provide some insight into how spousal support payments are calculated. For example, once a judge has determined the requesting spouse is eligible for payments, factors about the requesting spouse, such as work history, efforts to find employment, educational background, homemaking efforts, and infidelity, will all be used to calculate payments.

The paying spouse will only be subjected to spousal support payments that are up to 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly income. For most people, this equals spousal support payments that are less than $5,000 per month, but high-earning individuals will often make larger payments to equal 20% of their monthly income.

How Long Do Spousal Support Payments Last?

The length of the marriage will generally determine how long spousal support payments will last. For example, a marriage that lasted 10 to 20 years will usually equal spousal support payments of up to five years. Spousal support may continue for up to seven years for marriages that lasted 20 to 30 years, while support may last for ten years if the marriage lasted longer than 30 years. Some spousal support payments last indefinitely, depending on other eligibility requirements.

How Are Spousal Support Payments Made?

In general, the most common way spousal support payments are made is by subtracting the spousal support payments from the paying spouse’s paycheck. A judge may create an order that directs the paying spouse’s employer to withhold a certain percentage of income, which can then be sent directly to the requesting spouse via physical or digital check.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to enforce or change spousal support orders. To enforce spousal support, the requesting spouse will need to file a request with the family court to enforce payments, although this is usually only necessary when patent arrangements are not regulated through wage garnishment. To change spousal support orders, the paying spouse will need to provide proof of an income change to reduce payments temporarily.

How Else Can Houston’s Top Divorce Attorney Help You With Your Divorce?

Whether or not spousal support will be part of your divorce agreement, you should still learn more about all the ways a divorce lawyer can help you with your case. For example, a divorce lawyer can also be crucial when negotiating the division of community property and other marital assets. If spousal support is on the table, a lawyer may be able to leverage other assets (such as the marital home) to reduce spousal support payments.

Although spousal support is not mandated for all Texas divorces, one spouse can request support payments. In particular, if the requesting spouse is the primary caretaker of the children from the marriage, spousal support payments may be more likely. The length of the marriage, earning ability, and other qualifications are used to calculate how much support payments will be and how long support will last.