Whether it’s alimony or spousal maintenance, post-divorce payments are one of the trickiest issues of divorce.
Texas’ unique law makes it even more so. If you’re in Texas and currently in the process of divorce, chances are that you’re questioning whether you’re eligible to receive or have to pay spousal maintenance. Sit tight and read on – this article answers all your questions… and more!
Alimony vs Spousal Maintenance? What’s the Difference?
In a short while, I’ll dive right into everything you’re itching to know but first, let’s clarify a common mistake so that we’ll be building on solid ground.
Alimony and spousal maintenance are commonly used interchangeably, but, legally speaking, they’re not the same.
Here’s a major difference…
Alimony, or “contractual alimony,” is a type of post-divorce payment that must be agreed upon by both parties. It cannot be court-ordered.
On the other hand, spousal maintenance can be court-ordered. Under Texas laws, you must meet certain requirements before a judge can include spousal maintenance in your divorce settlement.
Qualifications for Spousal Maintenance in Texas
The law is very clear on one thing: you qualify for spousal maintenance if you can’t provide for your basic needs at the time of divorce and one or more of the following apply to your situation:
- You suffer from a physical or mental disability that prevents you from being able to support yourself
- You can’t earn enough to support your family because you’re taking care of your child who has a physical or mental disability
- You were married for over 10 years, and you can’t earn enough income to be self-sufficient
- Your spouse faced a conviction of being violent towards your and/or your kids within two years before filing for divorce
How Long Does a Partner Pay Spousal Maintenance in Texas?
Generally, spousal maintenance is limited to the shortest reasonable time to enable the requesting spouse to earn a sustainable income. To ensure this, Texas law puts a cap on the duration of spousal maintenance.
The limits include:
- 5 years if the reason for spousal maintenance is family violence
- 5 years for marriages that lasted less than five years
- 7 years if the marriage lasted between 20 – 30 years
- 10 years for marriages that lasted more than 30 years
However, these limits are just limits. A judge may decide to grant only two years, for instance. To get the most out of spousal maintenance, you need an experienced family law attorney by your side.
How Much Will Spousal Maintenance Payments Be?
This is probably what you’ve been looking for… how much could you be entitled to, or how much will you be paying for spousal maintenance?
According to Texas laws, spousal maintenance is 20% of the gross income of the paying partner up to $5,000 per month. That is, if 20% of your partner’s gross monthly income is more than $5,000, you will only get $5,000.
How Do Spousal Maintenance Payments Affect My Taxes?
The new administration tax cuts and job acts that came into effect on January 1, 2019, states that all spousal maintenance payments or alimony provided from 2019 forward is not taxable, nor can the person making payments take any deductions for it.
In other words, spousal payments won’t have an effect on your taxes whether you’re the recipient or the one making payments.
You Need a Family Law Attorney for Your Spousal Maintenance Case in Texas
If you’re planning to claim spousal maintenance, you need a family law attorney to help you get all you deserve.
On the other hand, if you’re about to pay spousal maintenance, a family law attorney will help ensure that you’re not being extorted and that you only pay what you’re supposed to pay.
While getting a seasoned attorney can prove to be a daunting task, you’re lucky to have found Scott M. Brown & Associates.
At Scott. M. Brown & Associates, our team of lawyers will look out for your best interest during a divorce. We have offices located at Angleton, Pearland, and Webster/Clear Lake.
Call today to book a 1-1 consultation with a highly qualified attorney.