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Is spousal maintenance required after a high asset divorce?

One of the most inflammatory divorce legal issues between two former spouses is the topic of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony. Particularly after a high asset divorce, pondering any type of spousal support can be understandably difficult for those who are already grappling with the financial aspects of property division. Educating oneself, though, can clear up a lot of the questions which tend to swirl around spousal maintenance.

In Texas, spousal maintenance may be ordered by the court after a divorce. The most typical situation in which spousal maintenance is ordered is when one spouse -- the one requesting maintenance -- has clearly limited financial resources. While this is a common situation after a high asset divorce, there are a few more requirements that must be met after in order for spousal maintenance to be awarded.

The first requirement is that the couple had been married ten years or more. The second requirement is that the asking spouse must be unable to support themselves financially. In some cases, this is due to a physical disability or mental incapacitation. In other cases, the spouse requesting support is not able to earn the type of income that would allow them to live at the level of their minimum needs. Often, after a divorce, if one spouse was out of the workforce for several years, they may be able to work a minimum wage position but aren't eligible for much else. Since such a low income is often insufficient for self-support, spousal maintenance may be awarded.

Finally, another situation in which spousal maintenance may be awarded is when the divorcing spouses have a special needs child between them. If the requesting spouse has custody of the child, and caring for that child requires extensive time and money, frequently that spouse is unable to earn a sufficient living. In such a situation, the other parent may be ordered to pay the custodial parent spousal maintenance.

Source: Houston Bar Association, "Family Law Handbook," accessed Oct. 17, 2014

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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