When you are anticipating you or your spouse will soon file for divorce in Texas, or if you are in the early stages of the divorce process in the Dallas area, you may have questions about spousal support, which is also known as alimony or maintenance. When it comes to the amount of spousal support you might expect to pay or receive, you may be wondering: How is spousal support calculated in Texas?
The following information can help you to understand how a court decides the amount of maintenance to award in a divorce case.
Determining Eligibility for Maintenance or Support Before Calculating the Amount
You should know the court will never begin from the premise that spousal support or alimony may be appropriate such that the court will determine the amount of the award. Instead, before the court ever reaches the issue of calculating spousal maintenance, it will first determine whether a spouse is eligible to receive support after requesting it.
Generally speaking, it is more difficult in Texas to be eligible for spousal support than in many other states. To be eligible for alimony in Texas—meaning that the court will then move onto calculating the spousal support amount—one of the following must be true:
- The spouse that would be paying support has been convicted of a family offense
- The spouse that would be receiving support cannot earn an income due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability
- Parties have been married for 10 years or more and the spouse that would be receiving support lacks the ability to earn enough income
- The spouse that would be receiving support provides substantial care for a child who has a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning enough money
Court Uses Various Factors to Determine the Appropriate Amount of Support
If the court decides spousal support is appropriate, it will calculate a support award by considering a wide variety of factors listed in the Texas Family Code. While some states have a specific formula for calculating maintenance, a Texas court can use any and all relevant factors, including but not limited to the following, to determine the amount and duration of spousal support payments:
- Each spouse’s ability to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs
- Each spouse’s education and employment skills
- Amount of time a spouse seeking maintenance would need to acquire education or skills necessary to earn a sufficient income
- Duration of the marriage
- Age of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The employment history of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Earning ability of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Contributions by the spouse seeking maintenance to the other spouse’s education, training, or increased earning power
- Homemaker contributions by the spouse seeking maintenance
- Either spouse’s unfair or fraudulent spending of community assets
- Separate assets owned by the spouses
- Marital misconduct, such as adultery or cruel treatment
- History of family violence
Seek Assistance from a Dallas Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
Whether you want to seek spousal support in your divorce or you have concerns about paying spousal support, it is important to seek advice from our spousal support lawyers in Dallas. In particular, we can help you to understand a party’s eligibility for alimony, and the possible amount and duration of the award. Contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson, LLP for more information.