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Our Austin Family Lawyer Discusses Alimony Before Divorce

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If a divorce is looming on the horizon, you might have to face the reality of spousal support or spousal maintenance payments, something your Austin family law lawyer will be able to help you understand.  Spousal support and spousal maintenance payments are more commonly known as alimony. Although these payments are common in the American divorce system, the trend in Texas is to limit the duration of the payments to only what is reasonably necessary for the party to become self-supporting. If your income is significantly higher than a spouse’s whom you have been married to for several years, chances are you will be hit with some form of spousal support or spousal maintenance payments.

Understanding Alimony Payments

Spousal support is awarded during the pendency of a divorce, before the divorce becomes finalized.  Spousal maintenance is awarded after the divorce is final. Spousal maintenance is generally not awarded for short marriages or marriages where you and your spouse earn similar incomes. In cases where spousal maintenance is ordered, generally speaking, you will have to pay a specified amount each month until the date the judge sets in the future. The duration of the award will be what the judge thinks is a reasonable amount of time for your ex-spouse to become self-supporting. Significant events such as remarriage or death can end spousal maintenance. Your Austin family law lawyer may be able to help explain other ways spousal maintenance may be altered.

Setting the Terms of Spousal Maintenance

Like most issues in your divorce, you and your spouse will be able to agree to the amount and length of time spousal maintenance will be paid. However, if you are unable to agree, the court will set the terms for you. This may not go in your favor, and because having a court decide for you means there will be a trial on the issue, you may lose a significant amount of time and money.

The History of Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance has been the law for over 100 years. It is ordered somewhat less frequently now than in the past, especially since it is now likely that both spouses work. The fact that you have to pay spousal maintenance to your ex-spouse is not a form of punishment by the courts.  It is a method used to protect a party that has invested time and effort into the non monetary part of the marriage.

If You Expect to Receive Spousal Maintenance

The question of whether or not spousal maintenance might be a possibility for you depends on how much you earn, your capacity to earn, how much your spouse earns, and the length of your marriage. Your capacity to earn does not necessarily reflect what you are earning at the time you go to court. You may be required to make some changes regarding your work. For example, if you work a part-time job in a minimum wage job, you may be required to go full-time and earn more.  Your spouse may also refuse to pay spousal maintenance. If your spouse is ordered to pay you but refuses to do so, you must immediately take legal action to enforce the order through a “contempt” or “earnings assignment order” proceeding. Orders to pay spousal maintenance carry the same weight as any other court order and can be enforced if handled properly.

Contact an Austin Family Lawyer

For more information on how a Austin can help you, contact Nunis & Associates at (512) 236-9696.

  • 801 West Avenue
    Suite 200
    Austin, TX 78701

    (512) 236-9696

    (512) 236-9695

  • Licensed to practice in Texas Courts, including all 4 Federal Districts of Texas. Primary practice in Central Texas: including Austin and Travis County, Georgetown and Williamson County, Bastrop and Bastrop County, San Marcos, Dripping Springs and Hays County.