Courts may award spousal maintenance to provide temporary and rehabilitative support to a spouse who meets specific statutory requirements in a Texas divorce case. Generally, the spouse requesting maintenance cannot have enough property to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs and must meet other statutory requirements. A spouse seeking maintenance must overcome a presumption that spousal maintenance is not warranted. This presumption can be rebutted if the spouse requesting maintenance shows that he or she was diligent in trying to earn enough income to provide for his or her reasonable needs or in developing the necessary skills to provide for those needs during separation and while the case was pending. The spouse seeking maintenance must make this showing even if the other spouse does not participate in the case.
A former husband recently challenged the spousal maintenance awarded to his wife following a trial he did not participate in. The couple had been married nearly 15 years when they separated. The wife filed for divorce about a year later. The husband was served, but failed to answer or appear. The trial court held a short hearing and granted the divorce. The court also awarded the wife the family home, retirement from her husband’s income, retirement in her own name and two vehicles. The court also ordered the husband to pay $500 spousal maintenance per month.
The husband appealed the spousal maintenance award. He argued the trial court abused its discretion because there was insufficient evidence that the wife lacked the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs. He also argued there was no evidence to rebut the presumption against awarding maintenance. Additionally, the award was made in perpetuity. Finally, he argued the award was greater than the statutory maximum.