McKinney Spousal Support & Alimony Lawyer
Skilled Representation in Collin, Denton, & Dallas Counties, TX
Spousal support and alimony are often contested in Texas divorce and post-divorce cases. One spouse makes these payments to the other spouse during and after the divorce proceedings based on various factors reviewed by the court.
Spousal support, referred to by Texas courts as spousal maintenance, is often used interchangeably with the older, more traditional term of alimony. Both terms can refer to these payments. Sometimes, alimony refers to the payments made to a spouse while the divorce is pending. At the same time, spousal maintenance may be designated for the spousal payments made after a divorce has been concluded. In either case, this financial support is not automatic but must be requested and meet specific guidelines to be awarded.
At Petitt Family Law, our competent family law attorney understands Texas law, Texas case law that includes past rulings on this subject, and how courts operate on this matter. Attorney Melody Petitt is a long-time veteran of Texas family law practice, to which her firm is exclusively dedicated. She provides legal representation in these matters, pending divorce, and in post-divorce situations where you may seek enforcement, modification, or termination.
You can connect with Petitt Family Law online or at (469) 716-6893 to book a confidential consultation with our McKinney spousal support/alimony attorney.
Overview of Spousal Maintenance & Alimony in Texas
Unless you and your spouse contractually agree to alimony or maintenance, which the court can then approve, it will be determined by a judge. Judges will examine many factors related to your marriage in which they decide whether this financial support should be awarded at all and, if so, how much and for how long it will be paid.
Mutually agreed-upon contractual agreements are more advantageous to recipients because the terms of the contract can be enforced should the payor fail to pay. Recipients can sue delinquent payors, leading to contempt of court filings and legal enforcement remedies.
Absent such contracts, to qualify for alimony, you must meet one of the following:
- Marriage Duration: A couple must have been married for at least 10 years. This requirement assumes that longer marriages often involve greater financial interdependence.
- Financial Need: The spouse requesting alimony cannot reasonably meet their minimum basic needs without it. This requirement recognizes that some spouses may lack the resources to support themselves immediately after a divorce.
- Disability: The requesting spouse cannot become financially independent due to a physical or mental disability. This acknowledges that disabilities can significantly limit earning potential.
- Child Care: The requesting spouse has custody of a child from the marriage who requires substantial care due to a physical or mental disability, preventing the spouse from earning sufficient income. This requirement reflects the financial and time burdens of caring for a disabled child.
- Family Violence: If the marriage lasted less than 10 years, the court may still award maintenance if the spouse seeking it was a victim of family violence by the other spouse during the marriage or while the divorce is pending.
- Lack of Earning Ability: The court may consider the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training.
These are just the eligibility requirements. The actual amount and duration awarded will likely depend on other factors, such as the couple’s financial resources, the supporting spouse’s ability to pay, the age and health of both, contributions one spouse may have made as a homemaker and childcare provider, and other relevant information.
The court may order maintenance for a maximum of seven years for marriages that lasted at least 20 but less than 30 years. If the parties were married for more than 30 years, alimony is capped at 10 years.
These are maximum durations – the court has the discretion to set shorter periods based on the circumstances of the case. Additionally, alimony can be terminated earlier under certain conditions, such as the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the recipient spouse, or if the recipient cohabitates with a new partner in a romantic relationship.
Alimony can also be modified if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in either spouse's income.
Texas also caps the monthly amount of alimony that can be paid. According to the Texas Family Code, the maximum amount of spousal maintenance that a court may order is the lesser of either $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse's average monthly gross income.
This means that no matter how high the paying spouse's income might be, they will not be required to pay more than $5,000 monthly in alimony. Conversely, if 20% of their average monthly gross income amounts to less than $5,000, the alimony payment will be capped at that lower amount.
Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can significantly impact spousal support and alimony. These agreements allow couples to decide how much, if any, support will be paid in the event of a divorce. For these agreements to be enforceable, they must meet specific legal requirements, including full disclosure of assets and independent legal counsel for both parties.
Melody and the firm’s staff gave us excellent assistance in our successful effort to gain custodial control of our grandson. She guided us through the process, timely filed all documents and gave us great representation in the court proceedings.- Steven
Thank you so much for all of your help! You and your team have been great and a huge help in aiding me to navigate through those difficult times. I’m glad it is finally over and I’m happy I had such an amazing team in my corner!- Ben
Melody exemplifies everything that I needed in an attorney. She followed through on every aspect of what she said she would do. Along the way, she always kept my interests in mind when following up with the courts and giving me closure. All this in just a few short weeks before closing out the 2020 year during a pandemic.
In my previous experiences, I’ve always had to chase down my attorney or come up with the solutions on my own. Melody was the exact opposite of that. Replies were very timely, and she came up with solutions prior to discussing with me with any setbacks that would come up.
My only regret is not hiring her initially several years ago.- Anonymous
Melody handled my case with care & logic. She challenged me when I was leading with emotional rather than logic, and understood when she needed to pull back. She was an excellent partner through the whole process, and I have already recommended her to others.- Anonymous
As a single father living in a different state, Melody was knowledgeable about Family Law regarding my specific circumstance. She was personable and well versed in jurisdictional law in Texas and interprets the law similarly to the Court. Melody was respectful of my want to minimize cost but did not cut corners either. Melody and her staff was was communicative throughout the process. You will not find a better attorney than Melody Petitt!- Darryl
Custody situations are not fun and as a father, it always seemed like an uphill battle but because of Melody I had not the best legal representation but a group of people who had my back and made sure that my son’s best interest was always THE priority. Melody was relentless in ensuring that the job was done right and successfully. Words can’t express my gratitude, thank you Melody! THANK YOU FOR MAKING THINGS RIGHT!- Josh
Melody Petitt handled my case quickly and thoroughly. I was so happy with her dedication to keeping my family and I safe and getting the proper legal measures in order. She was able to get my Protective Order filed and eventually won while keeping me informed and confident through the whole thing. I would highly recommend her to anyone.- Anonymous
You don’t know what you don’t know. However, you do know when something is not working out. With that said, I went through a couple of attorneys before being represented by Melody Petitt and that made all the difference.
I will start off saying that the divorce process is like a game. And the law is the rule book, which is a constant that does not change. Where the game gets interesting are the players involved, petitioner, respondent and legal team. Every case is unique, yet some attorneys approach the process as if it’s all the same. However, in my case, we were dealing with a high conflict personality; and, it cannot be taken lightly. Unlike my prior attorneys, Melody jumped on my case and took the time to really understand my situation and what we were dealing with. She took the time to educate me on the law and how it applied in my situation, whether it was something I wanted to hear or not. The law is the law. She knew how to deal with the opposing party. Strategy was the key, and she was prepared for anything. She earned my trust and with that trust, she help make this process tolerable. Most importantly, she was able to get my case wrapped up in a timely manner with a desirable outcome. An outcome that would not have been possible otherwise. I highly recommend Melody Petitt.- Dai
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