How is the amount and duration of spousal maintenance calculated in a Texas divorce case? After spousal maintenance has been set, can it be modified for any reason?
Brian S. Loughmiller’s Answer:
The Texas Family Code provides for spousal maintenance post-divorce under certain circumstances. The amount and duration of support is dictated by a number of factors, including length of marriage and income of the paying spouse. Spousal maintenance is calculated at 20% of the gross earnings of the paying spouse, not to exceed $5,000 per month. An eligible spouse married less than 20 years may receive up to five years of spousal maintenance. A spouse married longer than 20 years but less than 30 years may receive up to seven years of maintenance. Marriages in excess of 30 years may entitle a spouse to 10 years of support.
The Texas Family Code allows for the modification of a spousal maintenance order based on a showing of a material change of circumstances. For example, if the payor spouse becomes involuntarily unemployed, and no other source of disposable income is available, the unemployment would likely qualify as a material change of circumstances allowing spousal maintenance to be reduced. In order to have a reduction in spousal maintenance or child support the person would have to file a Petition to Modify the Order that provides for those payments. If a person receiving alimony cohabitates with another person the court will terminate the alimony after a motion has been filed and a hearing held.