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With Child Support Off the Table, Celebrity Asks for “Pet Support”

Nearly a year after separating, Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are still trying to negotiate a settlement for divorce. The reason for the drawn out divorce? Alimony.

The couple split in January 2014 and have attempted to come to an agreement during the last year. According to an article in People Magazine, the sticking point for the couple is alimony.  While the couple has no children, they adopted six cats and two dogs while they were married. To cover the expenses for the eight pets, Mandy Moore is requesting that Ryan Adams, whose monthly income is around $150,000, make monthly alimony payments to Moore of $37,000.  Moore is also requesting that Adams take at least four of the cats. Ryan Adams has offered to cover all expenses for the marital residence, where Moore is residing. However, Moore declined the offer and argued that she needs the additional monthly support to pay for her expenses.

Alimony, known in Texas as Spousal Maintenance, is often an infamous topic in the tabloids when celebrities and athletes split from their spouses. Under Texas law, there are very strict limits on Spousal Maintenance. Absent extenuating circumstances, a couple must be married at least ten years before a court can award a maximum of five years of maintenance payments. Even if a couple has been married more than 30 years, the maximum duration of maintenance is 10 years. In addition, the spouse seeking support must prove that he or she lacks the ability to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. Further, the spouse seeking maintenance must prove that he or she is exercised diligence in either seeking employment to earn sufficient income or in developing the necessary skills to earn a sufficient income during the months before the divorce is finalized. If you can prove all of these factors, a Court in Texas may award Spousal Maintenance for a period of time.

While it may be unlikely that a Court in Texas awards Spousal Maintenance, Spousal Maintenance can be a desirable part of a divorce settlement agreement. In fact, couples often agree in negotiations to Spousal Maintenance payments that go above and beyond what Texas Law would permit. There are many reasons why Spousal Maintenance might make sense for a particular couple. If one spouse is the primary income-earner in the marriage, it can make sense to agree to payments over time rather than making a lump sum settlement offer. In addition, there are tax benefits to paying Spousal Maintenance, as the payments are deductible for the payor.  Because Spousal Maintenance is often desirable to the spouse who earns a lower income or no income, negotiating for Spousal Maintance payments can often result in a win-win.

If you have questions about Spousal Maintenance or divorce in Texas, schedule a consultation with an attorney by calling 214-692-8200.