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Spousal support in Texas: What it means

After a marriage ends, spousal support in Texas is not a guarantee. Even then, it is limited to whatever is necessary to provide for the receiving spouse's minimum basic needs.

What does that mean? Well, for starters, spousal support is limited to no more than $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse's income -- whichever is smaller. However, the exact definition of what equals a spouse's "minimum basic needs" isn't clearly defined. That gives judges -- and dependent spouses -- a little leeway.

Some of the most common factors a judge might consider when setting a spousal support payment include:

  • A mortgage or rent payment
  • Utility payments
  • Car notes
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Medical expenses
  • Monthly groceries

Spousal support is generally designed to be temporary relief while the dependent spouse tries to gain their financial footing. It's generally only awarded for five, seven or 10 years (depending on the duration of the marriage) -- and only so long as the dependent spouse is still unable to meet their own basic needs.

Exactly what makes a dependent spouse unable to meet their own basic needs can vary from situation to situation, but some common examples include spouses who have put aside their own career developments to take care of the home or family. A spouse who develops a physical or mental disability during the marriage may also reasonably expect support. Other spouses may be awarded support so that they can more easily return to school or develop a trade.

If you hope to receive spousal support after your marriage ends, it's smart to talk over your expectations and hopes with an experienced advocate.

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