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Unable to Agree on Spousal Support? Contact a Family Law Attorney Today

Jun 29, 2021 | Child and Spousal Support, Premarital and Postmarital Agreements, Spousal Maintenance

When you file for a divorce, there are many factors that are used to divide assets equally, one of which is the earning power of both partners. When there are children involved, the earning potential of the parent is used to calculate how much child support will be paid to the custodial parent. But even if you don’t have children, the higher-earning spouse may be obligated to pay spousal support. If you aren’t sure spousal support applies to your specific situation, a family law attorney in Sugar Land, TX may be able to help.

Unable to Agree on Spousal Support? Contact a Family Law Attorney Today

Ideally, divorced spouses should agree on an amount for spousal support without the family court stepping in to determine the proper amount. In this case, both parties will file an agreement in a court order that will be stored with their divorce records and spousal support payments will be made faithfully on an agreed schedule. However, we do not live in an ideal world and most separated couples do not tend to agree on spousal support.

But what is spousal support? In essence, spousal support is somewhat like child support, except this payment is intended to support the minimum reasonable needs of the seeking spouse. This means that the one-time payment or monthly installments are meant to support a basic lifestyle for the seeking spouse, particularly if the marriage lasted for 10 or more years and the seeking spouse is not able to earn their own adequate income.

Is Spousal Support Automatic?

In Texas, spousal support is not automatically awarded during a divorce. If you are seeking spousal support, then you will need to file additional motions with the court so the judge can enforce an order for spousal support. Even if you are seeking child support, you will need to separately apply for spousal support during your divorce. A family law attorney can help you gather the correct documents for this request, which may include information about your employment or earning capacity and other details about your financial situation.

Is Spousal Support the Same As Alimony?

Spousal support is the gender-neutral modern term for alimony. Traditionally, alimony was paid by male partners, but now spousal support can be paid by whoever the higher-earning spouse is if certain factors are met. But regardless of what this payment is called, the purpose of the payment remains the same – to maintain a reasonable lifestyle for an ex-spouse who is unable to earn their own living for certain qualified reasons. A reasonable lifestyle refers to basic amenities, such as shelter.

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

There are several factors that are used to determine whether or not spousal support is appropriate for your divorce case. Because these payments are intended to meet the minimum living requirements and reasonable needs of the seeking spouse, most of the factors to determine spousal support will be decided by the circumstances of the spouse seeking payment.

For example, a spouse seeking support payments must be deemed unable to meet their living needs because of a physical or mental disability or because the seeking spouse is taking care of a child with a physical or mental disability that renders the spouse unable to work. Additionally, if a couple was married for 10 or more years and the seeking spouse cannot earn an adequate income, then spousal support is more likely to be awarded.

How Are Spousal Support Payments Determined?

Provided the seeking spouse meets the other factors associated with their ability to earn a living, then other factors will be examined to determine how much the spousal support payment or payments will be. For example, the earning ability of each spouse and the ability to pay support will be decided by specific calculations. Other factors include:

  • Skills and education of each spouse
  • Contribution of education to the other spouse
  • Domestic services provided by a spouse
  • Property provided by a spouse
  • Length of marriage
  • Age, health, and physical/mental ability of the seeking spouse
  • Bad acts committed by either spouse

Each of these factors will be used to calculate what “minimum reasonable needs” means for each divorced couple. If a spouse has a significantly higher earning capacity than the other or if a couple has been married for a longer time, then it’s possible spousal support payments will be calculated to keep the seeking spouse in the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to. In general, family law courts treat spousal support fairly.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

According to the Texas Family Code, spousal support may only be ordered for partners who have been married for 10 or more years and the payment to the seeking spouse may only last for three to five years. This time frame is intended to help the seeking spouse find stability after divorce and gain the skills or education necessary to earn their own living. A maximum of five years is garnered for marriages that last for 10 to 20 years; shorter marriages may not garner any spousal support at all, depending on the case.

What Are Bad Acts and How Do They Factor Into Spousal Support?

Bad acts are essentially actions or circumstances that help you qualify for an at-fault divorce in Texas. Bad acts can include mental or physical cruelty, adultery, abandonment, or a felony conviction. Bad acts can have a huge impact on how spousal support is determined. For example, if your ex-spouse committed adultery, and you can prove it to the divorce court, then this bad act may increase the spousal support you are awarded.

Adultery is probably the most common reason for an at-fault divorce and it’s also a bad act that is most easily proven by many family law attorneys. Proof for adultery does not necessarily mean that you have to have text messages, photos, or videos of the act. Sometimes, proof can be bank statements, receipts of purchases, lease agreements, and other contracts related to the lover can also be evidence of adultery accepted by Texas family courts.

Who Is Entitled to Spousal Support in Sugar Land, TX?

Generally speaking, people who have been married for more than 10 years and who are unable to support themselves after a divorce are entitled to spousal support. Spousal support may be more likely to be granted if the ex-spouse has a higher earning capacity or if there are children involved in the divorce. In either case, evidence of bad acts can increase spousal support payments. You may be entitled to spousal support after a divorce if you and your legal representative file the appropriate forms with the family law court.

A family law attorney has all the expertise required to help you gain the monetary support you are entitled to as an ex-spouse. Because spousal support is not automatically awarded in Texas, you will need to seek this justice for yourself. If you believe that you qualify for spousal support in Texas, please be sure to speak with your legal representation about filing for spousal support with the family law court. Contact Skillern Firm in Sugar Land, TX today for more information about how a family law attorney can advocate for your interests.