Financial disagreements are often what complicate Texas divorces. Spouses who do not agree with one another about what should happen with their financial resources may fight so intensely that they end up litigating many details of their divorces in family court.
A judge might end up making all of the key decisions about financial matters if spouses cannot settle their disagreements outside of court. Not only do many couples need to divide their marital property, but they may also need to navigate conflicts about spousal maintenance. What Texas calls spousal maintenance is alimony or spousal support in other states.
Spousal maintenance is an order that requires one spouse to make monthly payments to the other spouse to help someone establish an independent lifestyle after a Texas divorce. Spouses often argue over how much maintenance is appropriate and how long maintenance should last. How long do maintenance orders typically last in Texas?
The length of the marriage affects the order
In general, a marriage usually needs to last at least 10 years for spousal maintenance to be an option. The only real exception to this rule requires a domestic violence conviction. Someone married for at least 10 years but less than 20 years could receive at most five years of spousal maintenance. Marriages that last between 20 and 30 years can lead to up to seven years of spousal maintenance. Marriages that last for 30 years or longer may lead to up to 10 years of maintenance.
Typically, the courts want to see proof that there are factors limiting someone’s earning potential when someone requests maintenance or alimony. Personal disability, long-term absence from the job market or responsibility to care for a disabled child could all influence spousal maintenance requests in Texas. The state may terminate maintenance early if the recipient dies, cohabitates with a romantic partner or remarries.
Some couples can negotiate their own arrangements for spousal maintenance that are reasonably fair. Doing so can make the outcome of divorce more predictable, which both spouses may feel is beneficial. Either way, understanding the basic rules for spousal maintenance in Texas may help people more effectively approach financial negotiations during a divorce.