When a married couple in Texas decides to divorce, maintenance could be one of the issues they need to address. Spousal maintenance is the term for financial support provided for one spouse by the other. Other states call such payments alimony or spousal support. Texas state law has specific rules for establishing a spousal maintenance order.
In scenarios where one spouse ceased working outside of the home during the marriage or deprioritized their career for the sake of the family, they might ask the courts to grant them maintenance as they attempt to rebuild their lives. A spousal maintenance order requires that the working or higher-earning spouse make monthly payments to the dependent or lower-earning spouse during and after Texas divorce proceedings. Such requests are often necessary for someone to begin living independently after a long-term marriage, but maintenance matters can very quickly complicate Texas divorces.
It will likely lead to interpersonal conflicts
Financial matters can be some of the most emotional aspects of a Texas divorce. The spouse who has always been the wage earner may resent the obligation to financially support the other spouse after the marriage, while the dependent spouse may fear trying to live independently because of the economic uncertainty involved.
Spouses often disagree intensely about whether spousal maintenance is actually necessary. Even if both parties agree that their situation warrants a maintenance order, they may disagree about how much the maintenance should be or how long it should last. Spouses may end up fighting intensely in court to convince a judge that their perspective on the matter is the right one.
It will prevent an uncontested divorce
With certain exceptions for unique situations, a request for spousal maintenance will typically render a couple ineligible for an uncontested divorce. They will need to have a judge review marital circumstances and order maintenance rather than pursuing an uncontested divorce through mutual agreement.
The need to litigate matters in family court can increase both how long it takes to obtain a divorce and how much it costs to divorce. Learning more about how different elements of divorce affect the process in Texas may help those preparing for family court know what to expect.