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What is the difference between maintenance and support in Texas?

On Behalf of | Aug 7, 2023 | Alimony

There are numerous financial matters that spouses need to settle as they prepare for divorce. One of the most hotly-contested issues in many Texas divorces involves a request from one spouse for the other to provide ongoing financial support.

What people refer to as alimony in many other states is either spousal maintenance or spousal support in Texas. Some people use those terms interchangeably, but they are actually distinct from one another in the Texas family court system. What technically separates spousal support from spousal maintenance?

Spousal support is voluntary

Some people negotiate prenuptial agreements when they first get engaged and establish rules for when one spouse might provide support to the other after the divorce. Others reach a mutual agreement in the early stages of their divorce and proceed with an uncontested divorce filing that includes an arrangement for spousal support payments.

Given that spouses set their own spousal support terms, the actual details of such arrangements often vary significantly from case to case and are not subject to specific state requirements. People can determine how much the support should be on their own and can also reach an agreement regarding the duration of the payments.

Spousal maintenance comes from a court order

For someone to receive spousal maintenance, their circumstances will need to meet specific criteria. There needs to be financial need on the part of the recipient spouse and the ability to pay on the part of the other spouse.

Factors including the current economic circumstances of the spouses and the length of the marriage will influence how long not maintenance lasts and how much one person pays. Generally, maintenance will not be permanent but will last for a specific amount of time based on the length of the marriage and the needs of the recipient spouse.

Those who understand the unique terms and special rules that apply to the major elements of a Texas divorce may have an easier time negotiating with their spouse or preparing for family court. Learning more about how Texas handles support matters and other financial issues during dissolution proceedings may benefit those who are preparing for divorce and worrying about the future.