Alimony was a common element of divorces for generations pasts. The reasoning was that the husband was the breadwinner who supported the family while the wife was the homemaker. This typically meant that the husband would support the wife and kids when the couple divorced. The wife continued her role as the custodial parent (often with full custody), and the husband continued to work.
These days spousal maintenance (as we now call it in Texas) is no longer a given. The couple might be a dual-income family even if the wife (or husband) had a more flexible job to better accommodate the family’s needs. When marriages like this end, the parents are more likely to split parenting time and custody.
The state has a formula for child support payments, with both working parents contributing a percentage or the breadwinner paying the full amount. Texas has fewer guidelines for spousal support.
The details of each couple’s finances will vary, so they or the judge (if they litigate) need to weigh several issues. Is spousal support is necessary for you? How much will it be? How long will it last? Finding answers involves weighing answers to the following details:
- Was the marriage a long one?
- Did you work outside the home?
- Is it realistic for you to work?
- Does the agreement match your current standard of living?
- Can your spouse pay child support and your spousal support while also covering their living expenses?
- Can you get new training to update your skill set and support yourself?
- Is there a prenuptial agreement?
It’s worth noting that your spousal support ends when you remarry unless the agreement says otherwise. There also may be a sunset clause or a lump sum designed to allow you to get back on your feet or better care for the children until they become adults or go to college.
Disputes are not uncommon
The couple will ideally come to a consensus, but this is not always the case. Spousal support is negotiated, just as the issues of custody and the division of community assets are negotiated. There may also be a significant financial shift where your spouse’s income goes up or down substantially. Nevertheless, a spouse can arbitrarily change the terms of the support or stop paying. Those who do could face civil or criminal charges. It is often smart for those seeking spousal maintenance to know that they may have to fight to get a fair arrangement.