Texas Court of Appeals Affirms Trial Court Decision in Divorce Case, Rejecting Appeal

In a recent Texas case involving spousal maintenance between two divorcing parties, a Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the wife was entitled to the level of spousal maintenance that the trial court had awarded her. The couple was married in 2010 and had one child together. In April 2018 the husband filed for divorce and the wife responded with a counter-petition for divorce. At trial, the wife was awarded spousal maintenance of $800 per month. The husband filed an appeal raising two issues claiming that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding spousal maintenance.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the wife testified regarding her educational background, her work history, and the health difficulties she had been facing. Specifically, she described how she needs daily dialysis while awaiting a kidney transplant. Her dialysis treatments can be done at home, but the treatment requires her to be physically connected to a machine for up to ten hours. While receiving treatment, she was able to move freely about the house, generally completing tasks and caring for her child.

Additionally, she testified regarding her education and ability to work. The wife testified that she received her bachelor’s degree in architecture and that she was employed as an architect by a company named Bella Homes. Her employment with Bella Homes was part-time, and she received $12.25 an hour, and due to her health, she was unable to work more than 24 hours a week. If she remained sitting for more than three or four hours at a time, her legs would begin swelling. When she initially began receiving dialysis treatment, she was not able to work at all, but after a time, her doctor cleared her to begin again. Most vitally, the wife testified that she would not be able to afford her dialysis treatment without her husband’s medical insurance. Based on her research, she estimated that COBRA insurance would cost her approximately $700 per month. At trial, the court awarded her spousal maintenance of $800 per month.

The Decision

On appeal, the husband made two claims, (1) that the trial court had abused its discretion in awarding the spousal maintenance because there was insufficient evidence to calculate the nature and amount of the award and (2), that the trial court had abused its discretion in awarding the spousal maintenance because it did not determine a duration or review period for the maintenance. Regarding the first issue, the appellate court found that the trial court was presented with sufficient evidence to infer that the wife qualified for the amount of spousal maintenance awarded, overruling the first issue on appeal. On the second issue, the appellate court found that a duration or review period was not required for such an award as long as the spouse receiving the award continued to satisfy the eligibility criteria prescribed by the applicable provision, overruling the second issue. The appeals court affirmed the lower court decision.

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