Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as spousal support or alimony, refers to financial support that one spouse pays to the other after a Texas divorce. After the Texas Legislature introduced HB901, the state’s spousal maintenance laws underwent massive changes. The expansion increased the possible duration and amount of payments.
Under Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054 courts do not automatically award spousal maintenance, and instead, these determinations fall under a “rebuttable presumption” that support is not needed. Spousal support can drastically impact a person’s livelihood, and individuals should consult with a Texas divorce attorney to request or rebut spousal maintenance.
Recently, a Texas appellate court issued an opinion addressing a Husband’s challenge to a trial court’s spousal maintenance order. According to the record, the trial court entered the order on December 5, 2010, requiring the Husband to pay his ex-wife $5,000 a month through February 28, 2027. Husband argues that the order exceeds the limitations under Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 8.054(a)(1)(B) and 8.055(a)(2). Under certain circumstances, these laws prohibit spousal maintenance orders that remain in effect for more than seven years after the date of the order. Further, the statute prohibits maintenance orders that require payment exceeding 20 percent of the obligor’s monthly gross income.
The appellate court found that for the trial court to order the Husband to pay $5,000 per month; the court was required to find that his income was at least $25,000 per month. However, the lower court did not address or acknowledge this requirement. Further, there is no evidence that the Husband’s monthly gross income met the threshold.
Additionally, Texas Family Code limits a trial court’s maintenance award based on the duration of the marriage. In cases where a couple has been married for at least 20 but not more than 30 years, the trial court “may not order” support that remains in effect for more than seven years. Here, the order could not extend beyond seven years, which would be around December 5, 2026. While the ex-wife contends this was a clerical error, there is no evidence to suggest this contention. Therefore, because the spousal maintenance order exceeds the Texas Family Code limitations, the court found the trial court abused its discretion. The appellate court reversed the portions of the divorce decree related to spousal maintenance.
Contact a Texas Divorce Attorney for Assistance with Your Spousal Maintenance and Alimony Issues
If you are considering or in the process of a separation or divorce, contact Texas family law attorneys at Guest & Gray. Our attorneys understand that dissolving a marriage can be emotionally fraught. We prioritize representing our clients with integrity and securing the outcome they deserve. The firm handles family law cases involving adoptions, alimony, child custody, child support, CPS investigations, child custody and spousal support modifications, divorce, enforcement, equitable reimbursement, paternity suits, post-marital agreements. Family court cases are time-sensitive, and it is critical that those considering or facing a divorce contact an attorney to preserve their rights. Contact us at 972-564-4644 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney on our team.