When a couple divorces there are many issues to take into consideration. Yet, for some couples, one parent may have stayed home and never entered the work force while the other parent worked and financially supported the family. For these cases, it may be necessary for the spouse who was financially secure to help support the other spouse until he or she is on their feet. In Texas, alimony or spousal support isn’t typically awarded, yet under certain conditions, when it is clear that one spouse may be seriously hindered once the financial support of the other partner is removed, it may be awarded.
Sometimes, spousal support is required for one of the parents to make it on their own. If they have given up their careers, or have no legitimate work skills, they may need the support to make it independently. The support is designed clearly to help the other spouse regain their independence. This support is known as Court Ordered Maintenance, and although it isn’t a formality with divorce cases it can be awarded if certain circumstances and conditions apply.
First, Court Ordered Maintenance may be awarded if the couple was married for at least ten years, and the court has been shown proof that the receiving spouse is unable to work or earn enough income to support the minimum needs. This could be the result of a disability, or due to the fact that the parent stayed home with the children and was absent from the work force. The court may also decide to award the maintenance before the divorce is final, under temporary orders.
Court Ordered Maintenance does have limitations. There is a three-year cap unless a disability is involved. In fact, in the case of a disability Court Ordered Maintenance may continue indefinitely. There is also a financial cap on alimony. The cap is at either $2, 500 or 20% of the paying spouse’s income. It is important to note that the receiving spouse will have to prove to the court that they truly are unable to meet their own minimum basic needs.
There is another instance when Court Ordered Maintenance may be awarded. This involves domestic abuse or family violence. If the paying spouse was convicted of a crime within two years of the filing of the divorce case, or if the paying spouse received deferred adjudication, the court may award the victimized spouse alimony.
It should also be stated that alimony is a tax advantage for the paying spouse. They can write it off on their taxes as well as it is declared and claimed as income for the receiving spouse. A wise divorce attorney can use this to his or her advantage. Since a couple can decide upon their own alimony agreement, the higher earning income spouse may agree to pay alimony as part of the divorce settlement that is worked out through their attorneys. This is referred to as Contractual Alimony since it is based upon a contract between both parties. Since the terms of the alimony are worked out between both parties, there is no financial cap or time limit included with Contractual Alimony.