It is not unusual for divorcing couples to have conversations about spousal maintenance, or alimony as most people refer to it. Often, if one spouse worked while the other pursued an education or raised children, the spouse who worked will be required to pay some form of spousal support, at least temporarily. There are two types of spousal support or maintenance: voluntary and involuntary.
The idea seems simple, yet this is rarely a simple conversation. At Pfister Family Law, our attorneys know that every relationship and every case is different. There is no "one-size-fits-all" model of spousal support because there are many factors that influence whether or not alimony or spousal support should be paid, how much and for how long.
THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF MAINTENANCE
There are five items to assess when it comes to spousal maintenance: the finances available, eligibility, amount, enforcement and termination.
Texas substantially changed the eligibility rules in 2011. Now a spouse must first prove that after divorce he or she will not have enough income to meet his or her monthly expenses. To be eligible a spouse must also prove at least one of the following:
- They were married for 10 or more years and the spouse asking for support has tried since the divorce to support himself or herself.
- There is a conviction for family violence.
- The spouse requesting support has an incapacitating disability.
A child or children of the marriage have a disability that requires the requesting spouse to give extended care to that child or those children.
THE MUTUAL BENEFITS OF SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Alimony or spousal support laws vary by state. The rules in Texas, for example, are not the same as the rules in New York. While most people initially feel a resistance to paying spousal support there are benefits. One of these benefits is a lowered tax burden. The other benefit is that spousal support keeps the family's money within the family and helps to maintain a higher standard of living for not only the spouse receiving it, but also the children who spend time with that spouse.
YOUR EXPERIENCED AND EFFECTIVE FAMILY LAWYERS
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