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Spousal Support and Alimony

Austin Spousal Support and Alimony Attorneys

What is Temporary Spousal Support?

During the divorce process, temporary support may be ordered depending on the financial circumstances of the spouses.

At the onset of the case, each spouse fills out a Financial Information Statement in order to determine the needs of the spouses and the children. The temporary support becomes part of the temporary orders under which the parties live until the divorce is final or further order of the court.

Is Temporary Spousal Support Deductible? No, during the marriage and up until the divorce is final, all salary, wages and most income from separate property is characterized as community income unless a prenup or postnup with a partition agreement is in place. That means that each spouse shares equally in the marital estate’s income. Payment of temporary spousal support is merely an allocation of funds that belong to each of the spouses.

Find Help & Legal Support in Austin

We understand the impact divorce can have on your life and finances. Here at Vaught Law Firm, our attorneys have over 40 years of extensive legal experience in family law cases including spousal support. We guide our clients through their divorce process and ensure their rights are represented in and out of court.

What is Contractual Alimony?

Contractual alimony is simply a contract made between divorcing spouses as part of a final divorce settlement. It is one of the tools that our attorneys can use to help settle cases.

Is Contractual Alimony Tax Deductible? Contractual alimony was used extensively prior to January 2019 due to the tax benefits offered when a high earner was able to pay (and deduct) alimony payments at the marginal tax rate of the high earner. The lower earner received (and paid tax on) payments at the marginal tax rate of the lower earner. The effect was to create a tax benefit from the difference in the marginal tax rates. Unfortunately, this option is no longer available due to the recent (2018) tax legislation.

How Can I Be Sure that I Will Receive the Contractual Alimony Due to Me? Contractual alimony is not enforceable as a part of the division of the marital estate. If the payor stops making payments, the payee who was to receive the payments would have to sue the payor for breach of contract. Breach of contract is covered by civil contract law.

Is Contractual Alimony Still Useful as an Effective Divorce Solution? Prior to January 2019, we used Contractual Alimony as one of our tools to help our clients achieve a workable solution to dividing their Marital Estate. However, due to the change in tax treatment, it has limited use as an effective divorce solution.

Who Can Get Spousal Maintenance?

In Texas, there is a presumption that spousal maintenance is not warranted unless certain facts and circumstances are presented to the court. That means not every spouse, no matter how long the marriage lasts, is entitled to spousal maintenance. There are many factors that determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. Generally, a spouse who has sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property and the ability, education and earning capacity to meet their minimum reasonable needs will not qualify for spousal maintenance.

Is There a Dollar Limit on Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance payments (monthly) may not exceed the lesser of $5,000 or twenty percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.

Are there other special situations where spousal maintenance would be ordered?

  • If a spouse has a lacks sufficient separate property and income to meet minimum and reasonable needs
  • If a spouse is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability, regardless of the length of the marriage, spousal maintenance could be ordered. Payments could continue as long as the spouse is incapacitated.
  • If a spouse was convicted of Family Violence within two years of the other spouse filing for divorce, maintenance may be ordered regardless of the length of the marriage.
  • If a spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, regardless of the length of the marriage, spousal maintenance could be ordered.

How can I be sure that I will receive the spousal maintenance that is ordered?

Spousal maintenance is enforceable as part of the division of the marital estate, and the Texas Family Code has additional guidance on how it would be accomplished. A Writ of Withholding Order can be issued to have the payments automatically deducted from the payor’s earnings.

What if my ex-spouse dies or remarries?

If your ex-spouse dies or remarries, spousal maintenance terminates on the death of either party or on the remarriage of the payee. A court can terminate the spousal maintenance obligation if the payee cohabitates with another person in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

Spousal support maximum duration is affected by the length of the marriage unless support is needed as the result of a physical or mental disability. In such cases, spousal support may last as long as the disability continues to prevent the former spouse from earning income that allows financial independence. Spousal maintenance is enforceable as part of the division of the marital estate.

The Texas Family Code has additional guidance on how it would be accomplished.

  • 5 Years: If marriage existed between 10 and 19 years
  • 5 Years: If the other spouse was convicted due to family violence within two years of filing for divorce or during the divorce process
  • 7 Years: if marriage existed between 20 and 29 years
  • 10 Years: if marriage existed for 30 years or more

OUR ATTORNEYS

Meet the Team

ATTORNEY JIMMY VAUGHT

Board-certified in family law and civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Specialization

ATTORNEY ERIN LEAKE

Family law attorney with broad experience in a variety of divorce and family law matters.

ATTORNEY JILLIAN FRENCH

Family law lawyer with experience in family law and military divorce.

Request your case consultation

If you would like to know more about how our firm can help with your case, we invite you to give us a call at 512-605-0999 or fill out the form below. We seek a favorable outcome on your behalf and provide superior service you require.