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When is one eligible to receive spousal maintenance in Texas?

When people in Texas are married, they generally share their assets. Both spouses' incomes may be used to pay for a home, food, clothing, recreational activities, entertainment and many other expenses. The couple may become accustomed to a certain lifestyle based on their shared income. However, if the couple divorces, they will need to learn how to live off just one income.

The general rule in Texas is that neither spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance in a divorce. This is a payment that one spouse makes to the other one, either temporally or permanently, so that both spouses can meet their monthly expenses after the divorce. However, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule and in certain situations one may be able to receive spousal maintenance.

One situation is if one spouse is convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse or against a child. The crime must have been committed within two years prior to the dissolution or during the dissolution process. Another exception is if one spouse is mentally or physically disabled and unable to provide for their reasonable needs. A spouse could also receive spousal maintenance if a child is physically or mentally disabled, requiring substantial care which prevents the custodial parent from working and providing for their expenses. The final situation is if the couple was married for at least ten years, and one spouse lacks the ability to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.

In Texas spousal maintenance is the exception instead of the rule, but there are situations where a spouse may be entitled to it. They must fit into one of the exceptions listed above, which means that it is a very fact-specific decision. If the spouse does fit into one of the exceptions listed above, the court would then look at a number of other factors to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. This can be confusing and complicated, so those who need further information may find that contacting an attorney helps.

Source: Texas State Legislature, "Family Code, Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 8 - Maintenance" accessed on Sept. 5, 2017

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