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What Is the Cap on Spouse Maintenance In Texas?

May 2, 2018

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is often a point of contention in divorces. Although both sides can negotiate the amount that is paid to the recipient, a cap or limitation set by the state’s laws will decide the most a person can receive. Your divorce attorney will discuss the cap with you, but it is a good idea to understand the cap amount and what factors influence the amount that is owed to a recipient before starting the divorce process.

What Is the Cap Amount?

In the state of Texas, the cap on spousal maintenance is stated in the family code statutes. According to the statute, the obligor cannot pay more than $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the obligor’s monthly income. Whichever amount is the lesser of the two is the amount that will be ordered. The judge could choose to place a limit on how long the obligor must pay spousal maintenance. For instance, the judge could end the payments after the recipient completes their college education and gets a job. The end date for the alimony will also be included in the order.

The act also covers people who are subjected to a legal guardianship. For instance, an elderly parent who is being cared for by an adult child who is abusive would be protected by the same law.

What Protection Does The Act Offer?

One of the primary protections that the act offers is a temporary protective order. In Texas, the order would restrict contact by the abuser for 31 to 91 days. If the abuser violates the order, the judge could issue a warrant for their arrest.

The order is usually issued by a local judge when there is an incident that results in the abuser being arrested. Even if the abuser is not convicted, the order stays in place until an expiration date determined by the judge.

What Determines The Amount Paid?

Whether a recipient is entitled to receive $5,000 per month or less depends on certain factors. For instance, how long a couple was married has a major bearing on the amount that is ultimately awarded by the judge. The longer a couple was married, the more the recipient can expect to receive.

Another factor that can influence how much is paid is whether the obligor is also responsible for paying child support. The judge will consider if the spousal maintenance payment will have an impact on whether the obligor can afford to make their child support payments. If it does, the judge could choose to reduce the alimony payments to avoid interference with the obligor’s other financial obligation.

Whether paying alimony has an impact on the obligor’s ability to take care of their own needs is important, too. If the obligor can prove that they cannot afford a higher amount of spousal maintenance, a judge could agree to lower the amount requested by the recipient. In this instance, only basic needs, such as utilities and mortgage, are considered.

Negotiating spousal maintenance is complicated and it takes an extensive knowledge of Texas family law to successfully manage it. Working with an experienced attorney like Robert Allen Thornton can help an alimony recipient or obligor get through the process.

For more information on our Dallas Spousal Maintenance Attorney please visit our site.