During or after a divorce, the court may order either spouse to provide financial support to the other. The periodic payment is known as spousal support, meant for their maintenance. Notably, spousal support is separate from child support or property division.
No spouse has a right to such support. They must demonstrate that they have made an effort in good faith to earn an income or acquire the necessary training or education towards becoming financially independent. Should the requesting spouse still need support, the court will order it after evaluating their needs, guided by the law.
Factors considered when calculating alimony
Usually, the court has broad discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support. Some of the factors considered under Texas laws include:
- The length of the marriage
- The spouse’s ability to pay spousal support
- The education and employment skills of each spouse
- Each spouse’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage
- Whether there was marital misconduct in the marriage, such as adultery or domestic abuse
- The spouse’s contribution towards the education, career or earning power of the other
- The age, physical and mental condition of the requesting parent, among others
All these will be used in determining the amount of spousal support the paying spouse is obligated to make to the other. In Texas, the amount cannot be more than $5,000 a month or exceed 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. The lesser of the two is what the court will usually order in spousal support.
Spousal support orders are enforceable and modifiable
If the court orders spousal support, the paying spouse has to obey the court’s directives. Otherwise, the court can employ several enforcement tools to compel them to pay. In addition, it is possible to modify the amount of spousal support if there have been substantial changes in either spouse’s life.
If you are getting a divorce, it is necessary to understand how spousal support works and what you need to do to safeguard your financial interests. It could help you adjust to life post-divorce, given the financial implications of legally splitting from your spouse.