Spousal Support & Alimony Serving Families Throughout McKinney, TX & Surrounding Areas

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.

Alimony Caps

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.

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