Provisions for spousal maintenance come out of Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code. Its purpose is to give a spouse temporary assistance in paying their bills after a divorce, to get back on their feet. Maintenance is meant to be temporary and only if the spouse cannot effectively support themselves. The typical situation is the spouse who leaves the workforce to take care of the children and the house. This, by the way, saves money on daycare and is a noble calling. Unless the stay-at-home spouse has some special skill, it will take some time to begin working and earning a living for an entire household. Texas Spousal Maintenance comes from the legal obligation of spouses to support each other. As in financial needs. Although maintenance is an effort to be fair, it is not automatic.
To be eligible to receive spousal maintenance in Texas, the spouses must be just that…spouses. You must be able to prove the marriage. Also, the spouse must be in at least one of these situations:
Unless the spouse or a child is disabled, or unless the spouse has been assaulted, the spouse must prove the need for spousal maintenance. Texas Family Code Section 8.051(2)(B) and Section 8.053 tell us that to get spousal maintenance, the spouse must show that he or she:
So the spouse seeing the maintenance has the burden of proving the need. The court will look at many factors to determine whether a spouse is eligible. Texas law requires the court to determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of payments by considering many factors. These factors come from Texas Family Code 8.052. There are:
Duration of Spousal Maintenance, Texas Family Code 8.054. The court is bound by a cap on the time it can give spousal maintenance. Having said that, though, the court will only give spousal maintenance for as long as it takes for the receiving spouse to be able to pay their minimum needs.
|Reason for Maintenance||Maximum Time|
|Family violence only||5 years|
|Married at least 10 years||5 years|
|Married 20-30 years||7 years|
|Married over 30 years||10 years|
|Spouse is disabled||As long as disabled|
|Spouse caring for disabled child||As long as child is disabled|
A court will give only the amount in spousal maintenance as is necessary to help the spouse with minimum needs. The maximum it can give is either $5000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly gross income, whichever is less. Even so, the court will only give as much as it thinks the receiving spouse needs.
As far as spousal maintenance goes, if it looks like the court will look for reasons to not give it and for the least amount of time and amount possible, you are right. Spousal maintenance in Texas is not a jackpot.