Divorcing couples may enter into a mutual agreement in which one person pays the other to help with living expenses. Texas courts refer to this type of support as “contractual alimony.”
If divorcing couples cannot reach a mutual agreement about support, one person may petition a court to enter an order for spousal maintenance. Whether a court will grant the order may depend on several factors.
The length of the marriage
In accordance with Texas’ statutory law about spousal maintenance, courts are most likely to order maintenance for marriages lasting ten years or longer. If a marriage was not particularly long, a court may find that there was not sufficient time for one spouse to develop financial dependence on the other.
Income disparity may be a key factor in whether a person can get spousal maintenance. If one spouse chose to forgo working to spend time caring for children or managing the household, it may be grounds to petition for maintenance.
Courts may award maintenance if a person plans to seek new employment but the current job market is not good. This form of award may be temporary and last only until somebody finds work.
Timing of changes in income
A person typically cannot seek maintenance because he or she loses a job after a marriage ends. The need for support must depend on someone’s financial status at the time of a divorce.
Ultimately, there is no single formula that courts use to decide who is eligible for support. Courts will attempt to evaluate individuals’ unique circumstances when making a ruling.