A person mails money for spousal support

The idea of spousal support is well-established in Texas law. However, it has evolved over time to encompass more circumstances than it did initially. Today, far more situations qualify a spouse for spousal support, and spousal support is often granted for longer periods of time than before. 

In other words, the concept of spousal support in Texas has markedly expanded and can be quite confusing for many. The complexities make it essential for anyone dealing with spousal support issues to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

If you are facing spousal support matters in Midland, TX, you deserve quality representation from a family law attorney who cares about your future. Contact Navarrete Schwartz, P.C. for a consultation to explore your next steps.

Understanding Spousal Support in Texas

The idea behind spousal support in Texas is simple. One spouse provides regular payments to help the other spouse maintain a certain lifestyle while they get on their feet. 

Although spousal support has expanded over the years, qualifying for it can be difficult, which makes having an attorney crucial to success. Keep in mind that spouses are free to privately contract alimony arrangements amongst themselves. 

When?

Spousal support is not automatic. Spouses seeking alimony must demonstrate that they fulfill all of the necessary conditions to receive support, which include:

  • Being a legal spouse and not simply living together
  • Having a lack of sufficient assets to provide for minimum reasonable needs

There are other conditions to consider as well.

Spouses seeking alimony must also demonstrate one of the following:

  • Marriage for at least ten years and insufficient income to provide for their reasonable needs
  • Insufficient income and a mental or physical disability
  • Insufficient income due to caring for a child with disabilities
  • The paying spouse’s conviction for an act of family violence during the marriage or divorce

It is important to note that common-law marriages are recognized in Texas. Additionally, common-law marriages between same-sex partners are also valid, which means that common-law spouses may receive spousal support if they qualify. 

How much?

Spousal support eligibility does not guarantee that the court will award it. Once a spouse demonstrates themselves to be eligible for support, the court will review a variety of factors to determine whether support should be awarded at all and at what amount. 

Some of the factors judges consider include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The work history and employment prospects of both spouses
  • Whether infidelity played a role in the marriage
  • The requesting spouse’s job-search efforts
  • The requesting spouse’s contributions to the home as a homemaker and child-rearer

In some cases, judges refuse to award spousal support after careful consideration of these factors. In others, they may choose the maximum amount allowable or anything less. Under Texas law, the maximum amount of spousal support you may receive is $5,000 or 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income, whichever is lower. 

How long?

The length of the duration of spousal support depends largely on the length of the marriage. For marriages lasting under 20 years, judges typically order up to 5 years of alimony. If a marriage lasted over 20 but less than 30 years, the duration of support would be up to seven years. 

Finally, up to 10 years of alimony may be awarded in cases with marriages lasting more than 30 years. 

Immigration Issues and Spousal Support

If you are an immigrant married to a U.S. resident, you may be entitled to support in the event of a divorce. Moreover, if you have been a homemaker during the course of your marriage and have no job prospects, your spouse sponsor may be required to pay you the equivalent of 124% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines until you are reasonably able to find a job.

Spousal Support Modification

Spousal modification is possible. Depending on the circumstances, it may be done by the parties themselves if the support arrangement was privately contracted. If not, spouses must petition the court with good cause, such as:

  • The payee is living with a new partner or spouse
  • One of the spouses has died
  • The payee has obtained gainful employment

Spousal support payments can also be modified when the paying spouse can no longer afford them. Regardless of the reason, you need a skilled lawyer to represent you in modification hearings to increase your odds of success.

Protect Your Future With the Help of a Family Law Attorney

Spousal support rulings can impact your life for many years. Your future is at stake, and you deserve trusted guidance and representation in these matters. 

Whether you are seeking spousal support, defending against unreasonable support demands, or seeking a spousal support modification, the family law firm of Navarrete Schwartz, P.C. in Midland, TX, can protect your interests. Call today for a consultation.