Spousal maintenance is one of the biggest issues in many League City divorces. You may have heard of both spousal maintenance and spousal support, and Texas law differentiates between the two.
Spousal support is a voluntary payment from one spouse to another as part of a divorce agreement, with the amount and terms agreed upon between spouses. Spousal maintenance, on the other hand, is a payment ordered by a court from one spouse to another.
Earning capacity and minimum reasonable needs
Spousal maintenance is awarded to a spouse who does not have an earning capacity to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. You may wonder what exactly this means.
Since each divorce involves unique circumstances and people, this standard means something different in every case. That is why there is a set of factors a court looks at to decide an appropriate amount:
- Education and employment skills
- Financial resources
- Time to obtain education or training
- Availability of education or training
All these factors are considered for both you and your spouse, not just the one seeking spousal maintenance. The financial resources are considered after any other property division is complete.
This means that if your spouse received a valuable asset, such as a house, they may receive a lower amount in spousal maintenance than they would otherwise.
A court also considers the age and health of you and your spouse. If your spouse is asking for spousal maintenance but is young and in relatively good health, their chances of receiving it, or a high amount of it, decrease, since they have time and the ability to get a job and earn their own income.
However, if your spouse is nearing or past retirement age, or has an illness or disability that limits their job opportunities, there is a better chance that they will receive spousal maintenance.
If you are the one asking for spousal maintenance, and some of the factors are in your favor, do not assume that you will receive the amount you want just by asking. You will have to show the court that you have looked for jobs or plan to attend school to increase your earning capacity. Courts rarely award spousal maintenance permanently.
Learning how these factors apply to your specific situation is important. Experienced family law attorneys can provide helpful advice.