Spousal maintenance exists to address factors in a marriage that may place one partner at a financial disadvantage when a marriage ends. Judges in Texas consider several factors when determining if a spouse should receive maintenance payments and how much those payments should be.
Judges base their decisions on the Texas Family Code.
Factors that determine spousal maintenance
When a spouse is seeking maintenance payments in a divorce case, the judge considers several factors:
- Whether the case warrants support
- How long should support last
- How much should the payments be
Texas limits the amount of support an ex-spouse can receive to $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly income, whichever is less. Court-ordered spousal support can be difficult to get because the person seeking it must prove that they cannot provide for their reasonable needs and that they meet one of the other requirements, such as having a disability or caring for a disabled child.
Contractual alimony is an agreement between the partners in a marriage to spousal support. While the judge must approve the agreement, the divorcing spouses determine the terms of the contract. If the payer stops making payments after agreeing to contractual alimony, the receiving party can sue for financial remedies. This differs from court-ordered support. If the payer fails to make court-ordered spousal maintenance payments, the state may charge that person with contempt of court.
Because court-ordered spousal maintenance can be difficult to obtain, many divorcing spouses may benefit from attempting to reach an agreement with their spouses. However, spousal maintenance is often a contentious issue and some couples may not be able to agree.