In Texas, there is no such thing as legal separation, so spousal support during separation in Texas must come through the divorce process.
However, in Texas, it is not mandatory for one of the spouses in a divorce to receive support. In fact, it’s harder to get this type of support in Texas than just about any other state.
What is Spousal Support in Texas?
In Texas, spousal support is known as spousal maintenance. These are payments separate from the division of marital assets or child support that one spouse pays to the other spouse temporarily after a divorce for financial support.
Let’s look at the facts to answer some more questions you might have about spousal support in Texas.
How Does the Court Decide Whether I am Eligible for Spousal Support?
In Texas, the divorce must also meet one of the following criteria:
- The couple was married for ten years or more, and the spouse requesting spousal support cannot earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
- The spouse can prove adjudication of an act of family violence that occurred either during the marriage or during the divorce proceedings, or…
- The separating spouse can prove they are unable to provide for themselves either because they are caring for the child of the marriage or because of a disability.
It’s important to remember that the goal of spousal support in Texas is to meet the minimum reasonable needs of one party — basic needs such as food, shelter, and transportation, not expenses such as tuition or travel.
How Long Will I Get Spousal Support?
Texas law limits how much spousal support one partner can receive, unlike other states. This limit is 20% of the paying partner’s average “gross income” per month, not to exceed $5,000.
State law mandates that all spousal support is temporary and strives to keep the payment window short. It only grants maximum time payment if one partner can prove they meet specific requirements.
The duration that one spouse must pay the other depends on the marriage’s duration. The law sets time limits on payments along the following guidelines.
- A Maximum of Five Years. A spouse married to a paying spouse for 10-20 years may receive spousal support for a maximum of five years. Alternatively, if one spouse was convicted of domestic violence beginning two years before the divorce proceedings started, or if any such conviction took place during the divorce itself, a judge may order up to five years of support for the other spouse.
- A Maximum of Seven Years. Spouses married between 10-20 years may qualify for up to seven years of spousal support.
- A Maximum of Ten Years. Spouses married 20-30 years may qualify for up to 10 years of spousal support.
What Happens If One Party Doesn’t Pay?
The court is responsible for enforcing payment and has several enforcement methods at its disposal, including holding delinquent parties in contempt of court, issuing fines, and even ordering jail time. Judges can withhold funds from the payor’s employer to ensure that spousal support payment is handled correctly.
Many separating couples enter into contractual alimony as a part of their negotiating process. In this case, there are no limits on either the amount or duration of these payments, and parting spouses can set the terms of the alimony how they prefer, without the intervention of a judge or family court. For this reason, many divorcing spouses choose to settle their spousal support arrangements in a mediation settled by their family lawyers, sometimes with the help of an arbitrator.
At WhitbeckBennett, our family court lawyers have been mediating family law cases for decades, and we understand the intricacies of Texas spousal support laws.
We offer competitive rates for our family law services. We can handle any representation you need, either in or out of court.
If you are entering a divorce settlement and have questions about spousal support during separation in Texas, our attorneys are standing by.
Call 800-516-3964 or email us at email@example.com to book a consultation today.