What is the different between Alimony and Court-ordered Spousal Maintenance?
In Texas there are two different kinds of alimony. The first type is negotiated and the second type is court-ordered, called "spousal maintenance." A contract between the two parties constitutes negotiated alimony. This will divide up any particular assets during the marriage. The second type of alimony can be ordered by the court under certain circumstances.
What are the conditions to qualify for Court-ordered Spousal Maintenance?
There are certain conditions in which the Court may order spousal maintenance. The spouse seeking alimony must show that the marriage lasted more than 10 years and that he or she lacks income to provide for basic needs. The spouse has to prove that he or she is not able to earn enough money due to a physical or mental disability or that because of having custody of the children, they need support since they don't have the income to care for the child due to a disability.
What are the effects of Family Violence history on Spousal Maintenance?
A spouse may be eligible for court-ordered alimony if the other spouse has been convicted of a crime against him or her or the spouse's child that is considered an act of family violence. The crime has to have occurred within 2 years before the date of the filed divorce or while the divorce is pending.
What are the limits on the Duration and Amount of Spousal Maintenance?
The limit on court ordered maintenance is 5 years if the marriage lasted between 10-20 years, however, the court can order less than 5 years. If the marriage lasted for 20-30 years, then there is a cap of 7 years of spousal support. Marriages lasting for 30 years or more have a cap of 10 years. The main exception to the caps of spousal maintenance is if the spouse is unable to earn enough income to provide for his or her basic needs due to a physical or mental disability or her child. $5,000 or a lesser amount can be awarded or 20 percent of the spouse's average monthly income. Because, the purpose of spousal support is to take care of the spouse's minimum needs, there is no guarantee of receiving $5,000 per month. How much and for how long support is given is based on the individual's case.
What is the termination of Spousal Maintenance?
Court-ordered maintenance may terminate with the death of either party or if the spouse receiving support remarries. After a court hearing, the court may terminate the maintenance if the receiving spouse is living with another person and they have a dating or romantic relationship in a permanent residence. If it is a contractual alimony, where the both parties have come to an agreement, the situation can be different. If the spouse is being compensated for giving up a property such as a business, then it may not be likely that the spouse will agree to terminate alimony just because they start living with someone. Courts can also terminate spousal support if there has been a material and significant change in circumstances for the reasons that spousal maintenance in the first place.
What is the different between temporary support, while the divorce is pending and post-divorce alimony?
Texas courts look at temporary spousal support much differently than post-divorce alimony. According the state laws, post-divorce alimony is not easy to qualify and there is a limited time and amount you may receive. While a divorce is pending, which can be as little as 60 days or as long as a year or more, Texas courts consider the husband and wife to be still married. Since marriage involves a legal duty to support your spouse financially, the court may issue "Temporary Orders" while the divorce is pending. This is done so that the household bills get paid. If there is a situation where the main income earner has left the house and the homemaker is still at home with no income, the court will award temporary spousal support. The amount awarded during this time is determine case by case and this often has an important impact on the direction the divorce takes.
What are the factors that court considers for awarding spousal maintenance?
There are several factors the court looks into when making the decision whether to award spousal maintenance such as:
Is alimony tax deductible?
It depends on the purpose of the post-divorce alimony and how the payment is described in the divorce decree. If the award is structured to be considered a tax deductible and also complies with IRS rules, then it can be a deductible to the paying spouse and reportable to the receiving spouse. If the alimony is more of a compensation for giving up other assets, then the IRS won't be so ready to make the award tax deductible. You should always consult a CPA on tax matters.
What if I get awarded alimony and he/she doesn't pay?
If the paying spouse has been ordered to pay spousal maintenance and he or she is employed, then the payments can be withheld from the paycheck, just as in child support cases. The receiving spouse can file a "Motion for Enforcement" for holding the pay spouse in court for not making the payments. It is a serious question if the court will hold the paying spouse in contempt and it solely depends on how the alimony is structured in the divorce decree. In general, spousal maintenance and alimony orders can be enforced in a number of different ways.
As one of the full service family law firm in DFW area, we provide legal services for all kinds of family law matters. If you are filing for a divorce and have complicated issues, like property, assets, debts, custody, visitation, support, and alimony that need the assistance of an experienced lawyer, we are here for you. Our family lawyers have the experience of working on all kinds of divorce matters, including the ones with alimony matters. We are available to have a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your case. Our attorneyss have provided family law services for the residents of Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, Denton, and Rockwall counties of Texas.
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