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Overcoming Hurdles to Spousal Support in Texas

Posted on in Spousal Support

Texas high asset divorce lawyer, Texas alimony attorney, Texas family law attorney,While many states are restricting their alimony laws under tremendous pressure from advocacy groups, Texas has expanded its spousal support laws in recent years, albeit not by much. As a result, spousal support is still rather difficult to obtain. In other states, alimony is an important element of almost every property settlement in a high-asset divorce, but that is simply not the case in the Lone Star State.

Needs Presumption

To receive any long-term support ("long term" being more than a few months), the requesting spouse must overcome two hurdles in Section 8 of the Family Code.

First, Section 8.503 flatly states that maintenance is not available in a Texas family law case. The only way to overcome this presumption is to introduce evidence that the requesting spouse has "exercised diligence" to earn sufficient income, or acquire sufficient skills, to meet the spouse's "minimum reasonable needs."

The tricky bit is that minimum reasonable needs is not defined in the Family Code, or anywhere else, for that matter. One of the more recent cases uses an income/expense approach: if income exceeds expenses, the spouse cannot meet minimum reasonable needs. Unfortunately, the court did not address the underlying question; to-wit, if a spouse is underwater due to overspending, why should the other spouse be forced to pay alimony?

On the other side of the ledger, evidence of due diligence may include things like:

  • Enrolling in school;
  • Cutting household expenses; and
  • Actively seeking employment.

The spouse does not need to show success in any of these efforts; due diligence, or "trying hard," is normally sufficient.

Length Presumption

Section 8.054 states that alimony is limited to the "shortest reasonable period," at least in most cases. In other states, these payments are called bridge-the-gap alimony, or something similar. However, longer term alimony is available, if the requesting spouse can prove a permanent disability, permanent income discrepancy, or some similar condition.

Essentially, alimony serves a different purpose in a Texas high-asset divorce than it does in other states. Instead of long-term income equalization, spousal support is a tool to give the requesting spouses the resources needed to support themselves, at least in most cases.

For prompt assistance in this matter, contact an experienced Williamson County divorce lawyer today.



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