Spousal maintenance is an important part of many divorce settlements. It is a periodic payment from an individual to their former spouse to support their living expenses. If two individuals have been married for a long time and one spouse makes significantly more income than the other, a divorce can seriously disrupt the financial security and quality of life of the spouse with less income. 

Understandably, many people going through divorce have questions about spousal maintenance. Here are some of the most common: 

Is spousal maintenance the same as alimony? 

The terms “spousal maintenance,” “spousal support,” and “alimony” are often used interchangeably, although they can have different legal meanings. In Texas, the term for a court-ordered payment from one former spouse to another is “spousal maintenance.” The term for a private alimony agreement between a divorcing couple is “contractual alimony.”

Do I have to pay spousal maintenance? 

Not necessarily. Court-ordered spousal maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis. Typically, the threshold for spousal maintenance in cases not involving family violence is ten years. If a marriage gets to the ten-year mark, Texas allows spousal maintenance to be paid. One of the ways spousal maintenance can be awarded is if the parties agree to spousal maintenance for a time — which, if mutually agreed upon, can be one of the best ways to resolve any concerns around this issue. 

How much might I have to pay in spousal maintenance? 

Spousal maintenance is typically limited to either $5,000 or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. The length of the payments depends on the length of the marriage, however the Texas Family Code states that the duration should be the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse receiving payments to meet their minimum reasonable needs.

Do I have to be a citizen to receive spousal maintenance? 

No. If a spouse is a sponsored immigrant, the court can order the other spouse to pay the immigrant spouse 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines in some situations until the immigrant spouse becomes a U.S. citizen.  

Where can I get help related to spousal maintenance?

If you’re considering applying for spousal maintenance, it’s important to get the right advice. Family law professionals such as attorneys and attorney mediators will have the necessary knowledge and experience to help you navigate through complex spousal maintenance matters. Moreover, they can assess your personal situation, offering tailored advice based on your individual needs.

This blog does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about making or receiving spousal maintenance payments in Texas, contact Sandoval Family Law today.