If you are struggling with the decision to end your marriage or not, you are undoubtedly considering a wide range of factors that will impact your decision. One common factor that people consider when contemplating the end of a marriage is the financial impact a divorce will have on everyone involved. Statistically speaking, there is a very good chance that one spouse will suffer financially post-divorce while the other spouse benefits financially from the divorce. Alimony, or spousal support, is the law’s way of trying to compensate for the disparity of income that frequently occurs after a divorce. Whether you are the spouse who stands to lose or gain financially from the divorce, you may benefit from learning how a Fort Worth father’s rights attorney explains the concept of alimony in Texas.
Alimony, or “spousal maintenance” as it is referred to in the State of Texas, is a monetary benefit awarded to be paid to one spouse by the other spouse in a divorce. Spousal maintenance is not part of the division of marital assets. Instead, spousal maintenance is intended to be paid out of future income as a way to balance the scales when one spouse is likely to earn considerably more post-divorce than the other spouse.
No. Spousal maintenance is not something that is automatic nor that a party is entitled to in every divorce. Alimony can be agreed upon by the parties, either as part of a pre-nuptial agreement entered into by the parties prior to the marriage or as part of a marital settlement agreement negotiated by the parties during the divorce. A court may also order spousal maintenance is a party is eligible. In Texas, eligibility for spousal maintenance requires the party requesting the alimony to pass a two-part test. First, the party must lack sufficient property once the divorce is final, including separate property, to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs. Second, one of the following must apply:
The spouse who will pay the spousal maintenance must have been convicted of, or received deferred adjudication for, an act of family violence as defined by Texas law. Additionally, the act of family violence must have been committed either:
During the marriage and within the two-year period prior to filing for divorce; OR
While the divorce suit was pending.
The spouse asking for spousal maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs and:
His/her inability is due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
Her inability is due to her responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability; or
She has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or more.
If the court determines that the spouse requesting alimony is eligible for a spousal maintenance award, the court must then determine how much to award and for how long. In doing that, the court will consider a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
Duration of the marriage
Age of the requesting spouse
Contributions to the family as a homemaker
Efforts to find employment
The length of time a spousal maintenance award will last will depend, in large part, on the length of the marriage; however, in some cases, alimony is paid indefinitely.
An alimony award can have a significant impact on the future finances of both the spouse receiving the award and the spouse responsible for paying the maintenance. If you are also a father, consider consulting with a Fort Worth father’s rights attorney ahead of time to get some idea where you stand on the issue of alimony so that you know what to expect when the time comes.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the payment or receipt of alimony, or spousal maintenance, in a Texas divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth, Texas father’s rights attorney at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.