COVID-19 Accommodations:

We care about your health and safety and are fully capable of conducting client consults virtually by telephone or video-conferencing. Please contact us at 214.692.8200 for a consult or fill-out our form online.

Articles Posted in Alimony

Published on:

In a Texas divorce, if one spouse does not have sufficient property to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs and is not able to earn enough income to provide for those needs and certain other circumstances are met, the court may order spousal maintenance. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051.  The duration of spousal maintenance is generally based on the length of the marriage, with 10 years being the greatest duration, for marriages longer than 30 years.  However, in some circumstances, the court may order maintenance for a longer duration.  When the spouse is unable to provide for their needs due to disability, the court may order maintenance for as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.  Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051.

A wife recently challenged her divorce decree, in part because of the duration of the maintenance award.  After the husband filed for divorce, the wife requested temporary spousal support and spousal maintenance after the divorce.  The husband was ultimately ordered to pay $400 per month temporary support, starting November 15, 2015.   The wife moved to enforce the order after the husband failed to start paying on time, and he began paying the following April.

At a hearing in October 2018, the wife testified she was disabled and it affected her ability to get employment.  She testified regarding her retirement, her disability benefits, and her monthly expenses.  She said she would not be able to pay for her expenses without spousal support.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a Texas divorce, a spouse who cannot support herself or himself because of an incapacitating disability and does not have sufficient property to meet their needs may be eligible for spousal maintenance. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.051.  Spousal support is generally limited in time, but a court may order spousal maintenance indefinitely to a spouse who is disabled.  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054.  There are statutory limits to the amount of spousal maintenance a court can award.  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.055.

A husband recently challenged an award of spousal maintenance to the wife.  He filed for divorce after the couple had been married for more than 18 years.  The wife filed a counterpetition and sought spousal maintenance.

At trial, the wife testified she owned as separate property a house she received in a previous divorce.    She expected to receive $96,000 in proceeds from its sale to put toward buying a new home.  She testified she would “barely have enough to pay for [the new] house.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

In many cases, when a person seeks to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States, also known as a green card, they must have a sponsor who agrees to support them.  If the person is moving to the United States as a spouse of or to marry a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, the spouse often serves as the sponsor.  The sponsor must sign a Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is a legally enforceable contract in which the sponsor agrees to use their financial resources to support the person who intends to immigrate.  After the person becomes a lawful permanent resident, the sponsor’s support obligation generally continues until one of the specified conditions is met, including the immigrant becoming a US citizen or earning 40 work quarters toward Social Security.  Divorce is not one of the conditions that relieves the sponsor of his or her support obligation.  Therefore, the support obligation may become an issue in a Texas divorce involving an immigrant who has not become a US citizen.

The support obligation was at issue in a recent case.  The wife had moved to the United States from Mexico to be with the husband in 2014. They married in June 2016.  The husband signed an I-864 affidavit of support in August 2016, agreeing to provide the wife with any support needed to keep her income level at at least 125% of the federal poverty level.  The wife later became a lawful permanent resident.

The husband filed for divorce in July 2017.  In her counterpetition, the wife asked the court to order the husband “to support her under his federal contractual obligation” based on the form I-864.  The trial court heard evidence and granted the divorce, but took the issue of the husband’s obligation pursuant to the I-864 affidavit under advisement to review the case law submitted by the parties.  The court held multiple hearings on the issue.

Continue reading →

Published on:

A court in a Texas divorce case may only order spousal maintenance if certain conditions are met.  The court must then consider relevant factors in determining the duration, amount, and manner of the payments.  The other spouse may challenge a maintenance award if there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of eligibility for maintenance or if the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the specific award.

In a recent case, a husband challenged a maintenance award and the property division in his divorce.

Under Tex. Fam. Code Section 8.051, a spouse may receive spousal maintenance if he or she cannot earn enough income to meet his or her “minimum reasonable needs” due to certain specified circumstances.  In this instance, the applicable provision of the statute provides that a spouse may be eligible for maintenance if he or she does not have the ability to make sufficient income to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs and has been married for at least 10 years.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code sets forth the circumstances under which a court in a Texas divorce case may order spousal maintenance.  Pursuant to section 8.051, the court may order maintenance if the spouse requesting it lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her minimum needs and meets one of the other enumerated conditions, related to family violence, disability, marriage lasting at least 10 years,  or a disabled child.  If a party disagrees with a maintenance obligation, it is best to challenge it immediately.  A Texas appeals court recently considered whether a trial court appropriately terminated a maintenance obligation the husband challenged in response to the wife’s enforcement petition rather than through a direct appeal.

According to the appeals court opinion, the couple divorced in 2014 and stipulated in an agreed divorce decree that the wife was eligible for maintenance under chapter 8 of the Family Code.  The trial court ordered the husband to pay spousal maintenance until either party’s death, the wife’s remarriage, or further orders of the court.  The husband was to provide his payroll statement to the wife on request.

Nearly three years later, the wife petitioned for enforcement of the maintenance.  She argued the husband had refused to provide his payroll statement. She asked the court to enter a clarifying order if it found any part of the decree to be insufficiently specific to be enforced.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a Texas divorce, the court may award spousal maintenance if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs and has insufficient earning capability to support herself or himself.  A Texas court recently considered whether spousal maintenance was appropriate when the spouse receiving maintenance had maintained employment with the same organization for over 30 years.

The couple had been married for nearly 40 years when they divorced.  The court ordered the husband to pay $650 per month for five years or until certain specified events occurred.  She was also awarded a 100% interest in the joint and survivor’s annuity of his retirement pension.

The husband appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support the spousal maintenance award.  He argued the wife’s annual salary was more than sufficient to meet her minimum reasonable needs.  He also argued she had requested the marital home and that put her in a worse financial situation.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a recent Texas appellate case, a husband and wife filed cross petitions for divorce. The husband argued that the trial court had erred in awarding the wife $5000 each month in spousal maintenance. The wife argued that the trial court had made a mistake in not appointing her as managing conservator of their two children and for failing to grant her a divorce based on cruel treatment under Texas Family Code section 6.002. She also argued that the lower court had made a mistake in not reconstituting the community estate based on fraud.

On appeal, the husband’s sole issue was a challenge to the spousal maintenance award under Texas Family Code section 8.001(1). The appellate court explained that the purpose of spousal maintenance was to give temporary support to a spouse who has a lowered ability for self-support or whose ability to self-support has worsened during a period as a homemaker.

Under Family code section 8.051(2)(B), a spouse can receive maintenance if he or she doesn’t have the ability to earn enough money to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. There’s a rebuttable presumption that maintenance isn’t appropriate unless the person asking for maintenance has used diligence to try to develop necessary skills during separation and during the time the divorce is pending.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a recent Texas divorce case, an appellate court considered a spousal maintenance order in a case involving a disabled spouse. The couple were divorced in 2012, and their divorce decree found the wife was eligible for spousal maintenance (also known as alimony), and it ordered the husband to pay her $400 per month until one of the following four events happened:  a review of the order in three years, death, the remarriage of the wife, or a further court order.

In the summer of 2015, the ex-wife asked that her spousal maintenance be continued. The husband asked for a dismissal, claiming that it was untimely, since she was supposed to ask for review in January, six months prior to the date on which she actually sought review. The trial court denied the ex-wife’s petition but also denied the motion to dismiss.

The wife argued that there was an error in denying her request for continued maintenance because she’d shown she received Social Security Disability, and the trial court couldn’t disregard her testimony about disability. Section 8.054 of the Texas Family Code is the code section that covers the duration of spousal maintenance orders. As long as you continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria, the maintenance may continue. The trial court can conduct periodic reviews.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In Dalton v. Dalton, a Texas ex-husband appealed from post-divorce enforcement orders. The couple was divorced in 2011, with a decree giving full faith and credit to an order of separate maintenance that determined child support, custody, property division, and other aspects of the divorce. The husband was required to pay his former wife support maintenance (alimony) of $1,309,014.00, paid in increments on a monthly basis.

Afterward, the wife tried to get the ex-husband to comply. The court had rendered a wage withholding order for child support and spousal support, and the wife had asked for enforcement. She’d also petitioned for a qualified domestic relations order for the full amount of spousal support. The parties negotiated. In 2015, the court granted the QDRO petition and denied the husband’s motion to terminate the wage withholding order. He was found in contempt, and a QDRO assigned to the wife a portion of his retirement benefits to cover what he owed her in alimony.

The husband appealed the First Amended QDRO, arguing that the initial orders didn’t allow these retirement benefits to be paid to his ex-wife and that since what was at issue was contractual alimony, it couldn’t be satisfied by his retirement benefits. The appellate court explained that Texas Family Code Section 9.101 allows a lower court that renders a divorce decree to have continuing exclusive jurisdiction to render an enforceable QDRO. Therefore, the lower court was able to render the QDRO.

Continue reading →

Posted in:
Published on:
Updated:
Contact Information