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Should you look for work even if you ask for spousal maintenance?

In Texas, spousal maintenance (“alimony”) is far from a given. That makes it smart to understand what can influence the court to either grant or deny your petition.

Under the current laws, unless there has been family violence, you’re disabled due to a condition that developed during the marriage or you have a disabled child that requires your care, the only way to qualify for maintenance payments after a divorce is when your marriage lasted at least 10 years and you can demonstrate that you “lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide” for your minimum needs. Unless you can prove that you’ve been making a substantial effort to overcome your limitations when it comes to employment and employability, the court may deny your petition.

What does that mean? Unless some other reason for the spousal maintenance applies, you need to make a good faith effort to support yourself. Depending on your situation, this can mean things like:

  • Asking your boss if you can convert from part-time work to a full-time position
  • Looking for a full-time job that’s within your current skill set
  • Going back to school to brush up on your skills, renew a certification or obtain a new degree

Even if it has been years since you’ve worked outside the home, you want to make sure that you demonstrate your willingness to be self-supporting by showing that you’re either steadily looking for work or working hard to improve your position with an eye toward self-sufficiency in the near future.

Do not, for example, quit your job with the idea that it will improve your chances of getting spousal maintenance. That could (and most likely would) backfire on you.

If you think spousal maintenance is important to your post-divorce future, take steps to protect your interests today. Talk the situation over with an experienced Houston divorce lawyer.