If a couple decides to get divorced, there is a chance that unless both spouses make the same amount of money, the spouse without a full-time job outside of the home may have a difficult time supporting themselves without their spouse’s income.
In Texas, courts will often award spousal support to a lesser-earning spouse (the payee) who needs financial support after the divorce. The higher-earning spouse (the payer) will generally make payments monthly, until the court terminates the order.
How long does spousal support last?
Under Texas Fam. Code Sec. 8.054, there are certain conditions limiting how long spousal support will last. Some of these conditions relate to the length of the marriage, including the following:
Award will last five years or fewer from the date of the order if:
- The marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years but fewer than 20 years.
- Payee spouse was given the award because payer spouse was convicted/received deferred adjudication for a domestic violence offense within two years of the divorce filing or while the divorce was pending.
Award will last seven years or fewer if:
- The marriage lasted a minimum of 20 years but fewer than 30 years.
Award will last 10 years or fewer if:
- The marriage lasted a minimum of 30 years.
Other conditions relate to the payee spouse’s reasonable ability to support themselves. The law states that Texas courts are also required to limit the length of a spousal maintenance order to the shortest reasonable amount of time required for the payee spouse to earn enough to reasonably support their needs. However, there are exceptions. For example, the court may not limit maintenance for a payee spouse with a mental or physical disability that makes it almost impossible for them to reasonably support themselves.
Spousal support can help a spouse who has been out of the workforce by giving them the time they need to acquire the skills necessary to re-enter the workforce post-divorce. If you are seeking spousal support or want to modify an existing order, a family law attorney may be able to help.