For many people going through divorce, concern over future finances looms large. Being separated means you are suddenly financially independent. When everything is settled, will you be able to provide for yourself? And care for your family?
Spousal maintenance is a big piece of this puzzle. To help you understand what to expect, here are three things to keep in mind regarding spousal maintenance.
1. Not everyone will be awarded maintenance
Spousal maintenance is not automatic. Instead, it is determined on a case-by-case basis. There are a few scenarios, however, which will frequently lead to a spousal maintenance award. When a marriage lasted for at least 10 years and one spouse does not have the money or assets to provide for their “reasonable needs,” the courts will often award spousal maintenance.
In some situations, a recent history of family violence, an existing agreement between the partners or a marriage involving a sponsored immigrant might also lead to maintenance.
2. There is no formula
Many people believe there is a formula the courts use to determine spousal maintenance payment amounts. That actually is not the case. Instead, the courts will weigh a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
· Each partner’s ability to independently provide for their reasonable needs
· The length of the marriage
· Any misconduct by one party during the marriage
· Each spouse’s work history and future earnings prospects
· The physical and emotional health of the spouses
Generally, payment amounts can not go above $5,000, or 20% of the payer’s average monthly income – whichever is less.
3. There are rules for duration
Texas does have some guidelines for determining how long spousal maintenance payments must be paid. These guidelines generally act as caps, meaning the award can not last longer than the time specified.
For example, if a marriage lasted for at least three decades, a spousal maintenance award can last for up to 10 years. In other situations the duration may be capped at five or seven years. If one spouse has a disability or is the caretaker of a disabled child, then the maintenance award might remain in effect indefinitely.
Going through a divorce is never easy. Knowing what to expect can help you effectively prepare for what’s to come.