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The basics of spousal support in Texas

There are many important issues spouses may need to resolve during the divorce process and spousal support may be one of them. During the course of a marriage, trade-off decisions may be made that provide for one spouse to remain at home or not continue or pursue their education. If the couple decides to divorce, the spouse who remained at home or did not pursue a career or education may face challenges providing for themselves following the divorce.

Texas law provides for spousal support in certain circumstances. Unlike some states, however, Texas views spousal support as a temporary method of helping a spouse become able to support themselves following a divorce. It is not viewed as a permanent source of income for a former spouse. Like most divorce-related issues, divorcing spouses are able to arrive at an agreement concerning spousal support together. If the couple is unable to agree, the court may order spousal support based on certain conditions.

The court will consider an award of spousal support when one of the divorcing spouses is unable to provide for their own minimum needs following the divorce. In addition to need, the spouse receiving spousal support must suffer from an incapacitating physical or mental disorder; the spouse receiving spousal support provides substantial care for a child from the marriage that suffers from a physical or mental disability; the paying spouse was convicted of domestic violence against the recipient spouse or recipient spouse's child within 2 years of the divorce; or the marriage lasted 10 years or longer and the spouse receiving the support can demonstrate that they were diligent in trying to become self sufficient and develop the skills to become self supporting.

Except in certain circumstances, the length of spousal support payments are also limited in duration and can end in some situations. Spousal support can be a sensitive topic for both a spouse needing it following a divorce and a spouse being required to pay following a divorce which is why it is important to be familiar with how spousal support is determined when entering the divorce process.

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