Couples divorcing in the Lone Star state shouldn't not rely on an award of alimony to aid in their post-divorce support, or maintenance, as it’s referred to in the Texas Family Code. “We don’t utter the ‘a’ word in Texas,” says Pamela George, professor of Family Law at South Texas College of Law.
To receive maintenance from a Texas divorce court, the spouse seeking it must fall into one of two categories. Under the first, the recipient spouse must have been a victim of family violence two years before the filing the divorce or during it's pendency, and the offending spouse must have been either convicted of or received deferred adjudication for this violence.
To fall within the second category, the recipient spouse must have been married for ten years and lack the skills or resources to become self-sufficient, be menatlly or physically disabled, or care for a mentally or physically disabled child. Additionally, the recipient spouse must lack property and funds that would meet their minimum reasonable needs -- and this includes any property awarded in the divorce. “And here’s the kicker,” George says, “realistically, almost no one qualifies!”In the rare instance that a spouse does qualify, the legislature can be less than generous. Maintenance is limited so that the most a recipient spouse may be awarded is $2,500 per month, or 20% of the other spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is lower. So, not exactly the best parting gift.
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