In Texas, spousal maintenance is a very complicated topic. Both parties may find themselves in heated disputes about what’s reasonable or fair, with no middle ground between them.
There are several situations where the court can step in and simply order spousal maintenance to be paid, and one of those is when a dependent spouse has been married for 10 years or longer and doesn’t have the ability to meet their “minimum reasonable needs.”
What sort of things are considered?
Even with these guidelines in place, the issue of spousal maintenance can be hotly contested. You may not think that your spouse’s inability to hold a job, for example, is more a lifestyle choice than any actual limitation – while your spouse may insist that they cannot work full-time because they need to be readily available to care for your teenager with autism.
Typically, when the issue is contested, the court will look at things like:
- Whether or not the dependent spouse has a verifiable mental or physical disability that keeps them from working at all or from working enough to provide for their basic needs
- Whether the child or children in the dependent spouse’s care need “substantial” help and supervision because of their age or limitations
- The financial resources available to each spouse once the marital property has been divided
- The education, work history, health and age of the dependent spouse (to determine how realistic it may be for them to rejoin the workforce)
These aren’t all the factors that the court will consider, of course. They can also take into account things like the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, the ability of the paying spouse to provide for their own needs if they’re paying spousal maintenance and any evidence of misconduct (such as an affair) by either party.
Because the issue of spousal maintenance can have a lot of nuances, it’s always best to get some experienced legal guidance that’s specific to your situation.