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What is the law and criteria for spousal support in Texas?

A common dispute in a Texas divorce has to do with spousal support, how it is determined and what must be done to change it. It is one of the most frequently arising divorce legal issues. Those who are concerned about it and are seeking to understand and perhaps change it before, during or after a divorce is completed need to first understand exactly what the state law says about these issues.

When a couple divorces, the court that holds jurisdiction over both spouses or a court that did not have jurisdiction over an absent spouse can order that maintenance be paid. This is contingent on the spouse who is supported lacking sufficient property to provide for the person's minimum needs after the divorce is completed. There are other criteria that must be met. The spouse who is paying spousal support might have been convicted or had a deferred judgment of criminal offenses including family violence while the couple was married against the former spouse or the spouse's child. This must have occurred within two years prior to the date that the divorce was initiated or while the case was pending.

The spouse who seeks maintenance must not be unable to earn enough income on the person's own to meet the minimum reasonable needs because of a mental disability or physical incapacitation. They must have been married for a minimum of 10 years and not have the ability to earn enough income to meet their needs. Or the person must have custody of a child from the marriage. The child can be of any age that needs substantial care and supervision of the parent due to a mental or physical disability preventing the parent from earning enough income to provide for the child.

Both the supporting and supported spouse might have their own beliefs as to why the amount paid should be more or less. There are even instances in which a supporting spouse believes the payments should cease entirely. When there is a divorce, it is imperative that the spouses understand how spousal support works and what to do if they receive an unfavorable decision after the dissolution. A legal professional can provide guidance and assistance.

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