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Spousal support, also commonly known as “alimony,” is defined under the Family Code Section 8.001(1) as “an award in a suit for dissolution of a marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.” Spousal maintenance, unlike child support, is not required in a divorce decree. The court reserves the power to court order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other, but this decision is usually based on several factors including the length of the marriage, difference in incomes, etc.

If you are seeking spousal maintenance, need assistance with enforcement, or are pursuing modification, contact Horak Law. Spousal support cases can be incredibly complicated, and the courts will not provide you with endless “chances” to petition for payments or modification. You only have a few opportunities to present and prove your case, and the best way to ensure that happens is to hire an experienced Houston spousal support lawyer like Matthew Horak.

Houston Spousal Support Lawyer, Texas | Horak Law

Spousal maintenance is not easily granted, and in order to receive or modify payments you’ll need a strong case to present to your local family court. If you are seeking spousal support or hoping to modify it, contact Horak Law. Family law attorney Matthew Horak and his legal team at Horak Law will fight relentlessly for your interests inside the courtroom. We can file the paperwork, attend court dates for you, gather evidence for modification or support, and anything else needed to achieve a favorable outcome for your case.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation with Matthew Horak. We currently have two offices in Houston and The Woodlands, but we accept clients throughout the State including Montgomery County, Harris County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County.

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Qualifications for Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance eligibility is established under the Texas Family Code Section 8.051. The general guidelines also establish that the spouse who is seeking support must not be able to meet their minimum needs after the marriage has ended. The individual’s inability to support themselves may be due to lack of sufficient property, which includes separate property, in combination with the following:

  • The individual can no longer support themselves due to an incapacitating mental or physical disability
  • The individual has custody of a shared child by the divorced couple, and the child requires a high level of personal care due to some physical or mental disability. Raising the child prevents the spouse from earning an income high enough to meet the minimum reasonable needs for the child and themselves.
  • The individual was married to their spouse for at least 10 years and cannot earn an income to meet the minimum reasonable needs for themselves.
  • The spouse that spousal maintenance was requested from was convicted or received deferred adjudication for a domestic violence crime committing during the marriage against the spouse seeking support or their shared children

In addition to the points above, the court may also consider the following:

  • If each party of the marriage can pay for the other’s minimum needs as well as their own needs
  • Education and employment skills of each spouse, and how long it would take for one spouse to obtain an education/training to earn enough income to support themselves
  • How long the marriage was
  • Age, earning ability, employment history, and the emotional/physical condition of the spouse that is seeking maintenance
  • If the paying spouse is able to provide support for the child and the other spouse (if applicable)
  • Any acts by either spouse of misusing funds
  • Any property or assets brought into the marriage by the other spouse
  • Marital misconduct such as adultery during the marriage
  • Spouse’s contribution as a homemaker
  • Education, training and/or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • History or trend of domestic violence

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Alimony Laws in Texas

The amount of spousal maintenance an individual owes is determined by various factors and the Texas Family Code. Under the law, the court cannot require the paying spouse to contribute more than $5,000 a month to the spouse seeking support. In addition, the court cannot allocate more than 20% of the spouse’s monthly gross income to the spouse seeking maintenance.

Gross income includes:

  • 100% of the wage and salary income
  • Interest & dividends
  • Royalty income
  • Self-employment income
  • Net rental income
  • Severance pay
  • Retirement benefits
  • Pensions
  • Trust income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Interest incomes from notes regardless of the source
  • Gifts and prizes
  • Maintenance from another marriage
  • All other income being received

The required duration to pay spousal maintenance in Texas can be found under the Texas Family Code Section 8.054. The Code states the court cannot order maintenance that remains in effect for more than:

  • 5 Years – If the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the eligibility of the spouse seeking maintenance is established under the Family Code. Spousal support cannot exceed 5 years if the spouses were married to each other for at least 10 years, but no more than 20 years.
  • 7 Years – If the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, but no more than 30 years.
  • 10 Years – If the marriage lasted for at least 30 years, then the court may order support payments for up to 10 years.

The court is required to limit the duration of the spousal maintenance order as much as possible. The purpose of alimony is to provide the spouse seeking maintenance enough time to earn sufficient income so they can provide for their own reasonable needs. The only exception to this is if the spouse’s ability to provide has been substantially diminished due to:

  • Their duties as the custodian of an infant or young child in the marriage
  • A physical or mental disability
  • A compelling impediment to earning a sufficient income enough to prove for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs

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Additional Resources

Spousal Maintenance | Texas Family Code— Visit the official website for the Texas Statutes to read the full text of Texas state laws governing maintenance in divorce cases. Learn more about maintenance requirements, enforcement of alimony, and how to modify maintenance under this chapter of the Texas Family Code.

Spousal Support Information | Texas Attorney General’s Office — Visit the official website for the Texas Attorney General to learn more about their section about the Texas Constitution that was amended in 1999 to permit wage withholding for spousal maintenance and the Texas Legislature added income withholding provisions for spousal support to the Family Code during the 2001 legislative session. Learn more about wage withholding here and other valuable information related to spousal support.

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Alimony Houston Attorney, TX

If you or your spouse are attempting to obtain or modify a maintenance award, call Horak Law. Matthew Horak and his legal team can assist you throughout all parts of the process and ensure your best interests are zealously advocated for the court. With over 10 years of practice, Matthew Horak may be a valuable asset in your spousal maintenance case.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free of charge. Horak Law has offices in both The Woodlands and Houston, TX.

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