Spousal maintenance refers to the monetary award either spouse may receive following dissolution of a marriage. It refers to periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for support of the other spouse. The support is paid after the divorce has concluded. Maintenance is not warranted unless the spouse seeking support has proven that he or she has tried to earn sufficient income, or tried to acquire the necessary skills to provide for his or her minimum needs but has not succeeded. Once this has been proven, the court may order future monthly payments under the conditions that:
Once it is determined that either spouse is entitled to receive support, the court will determine the nature, amount, and duration of the support by considering additional factors such as:
It is a rebuttable presumption that maintenance is warranted only if the spouse seeking support has exercised diligence in: earning sufficient income to provide for that spouse’s minimum needs, or developing necessary skills to provide for the spouse’s minimum needs during a period of separation and the time the divorce is pending.
The maximum amount that may be awarded to the obligee (the spouse receiving support) is $5,000 per month or 20% of the obligator’s gross monthly income, whichever is less. The duration of the order is 5, 7, or 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage. The maximum amount of time is 5 years for marriages which lasted less than 10 years, 7 years if the spouses were married for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years, and 10 years if the spouses were married to each other for 30 years or more. Texas law permits garnishment of spousal maintenance directly from the obligator’s paycheck once it has been ordered by the court. Failure to pay may result in incarceration.
Modification or termination of spousal maintenance may be requested by either spouse. The obligation terminates on the death of either spouse or on the remarriage of the obligee. It may also be terminated if the court determines that the obligee is living with another person in a romantic relationship. The obligation may be modified if either party can prove that that has been a substantial change in circumstances, in which case an order should be submitted to legally modify or terminate the existing order.
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