Do You Qualify for Alimony in Galveston County?
For many years, Texas had no spousal support law at all. Finally, in the 1990s, lawmakers approved a limited alimony provision. This law has been significantly expanded once. That expansion includes alimony qualifications, as set forth below.
Overall, alimony is one of the most controversial portions of a divorce property settlement. Some people, mostly obligees, see spousal support as a necessary platform to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Other people, mostly obligors, see alimony as little more than a financial penalty.
The biggest fight in alimony disputes is usually over qualifications. The qualifications themselves are rather subjective, and the alimony factors are even more subjective. A Galveston family law attorney is a strong voice for both obligors and obligees during this critical time.
Spousal Support Qualifications
If the obligor has been convicted of, as opposed to charged with, family violence during the preceding two years, the other spouse automatically qualifies for alimony. The victim in that case must have been the spouse or a biological child, as opposed to another family member or a stepchild.
Spouses also automatically qualify for alimony if they have residential custody of a minor child who is so severely disabled that the caregiver cannot work full time. Many spouses hotly dispute the difference between inability to work full time and unwillingness to work full time.
The final two qualifications, which are much more common, are even more subjective than the minor disabled child qualification.
A qualifying spouse must lack the ability to meet his/her reasonable necessary means. Additionally:
- The marriage must have lasted at least ten years, or
- The obligee spouse must have a physical or mental disability which is incapacitating.
Minimal reasonable needs usually, but does not always, mean the poverty line. The standard of living during the marriage also comes into play. Divorce almost inevitably reduces the standard of living, but legally, massage dissolution cannot cause the standard of living to plummet.
Unless the spouse has a certified VA or Social Security complete disability, the “incapacitating disability” qualification is rather difficult to prove. The good news is that circumstantial evidence is admissible and the standard of proof is rather low.
Spousal Support Factors
Qualifying spouses receive a maximum $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the obligor’s income, whichever is less. To obtain the maximum, or to avoid paying the maximum, there must be substantial evidence that at least one of the following factors is a major consideration:
- Obligor’s ability to pay,
- Fault in the breakup of the marriage,
- Obligee’s economic need,
- Length of the marriage,
- Employability of the obligee,
- Obligee’s noneconomic contributions to the marriage, and
- The overall property division.
The duration of payments usually depends on the aforementioned qualifications. In the case of a disability, either the obligee’s or a minor child’s, spousal support payments continue as long as the need continues. In other cases, alimony duration is tied to the length of the marriage.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Limited alimony is usually available in Texas. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Galveston alimony lawyer, contact Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters in Galveston County and nearby jurisdictions.