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Spousal Support

In many divorce cases, there is a disparity in income in which one party has more income than the other party. In fact, one party may be very worried about how this divorce is going to affect them because they cannot afford their bills without the other party’s assistance. If this is the case, when you meet with your attorney you need to be sure to address these issues with them. If needed, your attorney can request temporary spousal support on your behalf while the case is pending. However, the court can order temporary spousal support on its own if it feels it is warranted. Texas Family Code Section 6.502(2).

Most likely, if you have expressed a need, your attorney will have you complete a financial information sheet that will cover your monthly expenses and income as well as your spouse’s. This sheet can be used as a demonstrative aid in the temporary orders hearing. This assists the court in understanding your particular financial situation.

Unlike spousal maintenance, the Texas Family Code does not contain any specific guidelines for the court to follow when making determinations about spousal support. Therefore, temporary spousal support can come in a few different forms. The judge might ask that the spouse pay you a specific amount per month while the case is pending so that you can pay the bills. Or, the judge could order that your spouse pay only certain bills directly to the company. If the court finds it necessary and especially if your spouse requests it, the judge can put a limitation on the amount of time that the spousal support will last. The time restraint is primarily ordered to prompt the case along because if not granted, then the receiving spouse might not ever move forward in the case.

If the court orders a specific amount to be paid, this will differ depending upon the expenses and that spouse’s income. Also, if there are children involved, the amount of child support will be calculated first and then the court will consider the spousal support. Once ordered, if the party fails to pay the correct amount or on time, that is grounds to pursue an enforcement of temporary orders. If this occurs, the most common remedy that an attorney will request and that the court will grant is attorney’s fees. On the other hand, if you are the responsible spouse and the recipient spouse gets a job and can meet their necessities and you are struggling, you can petition the court to cease the temporary spousal support.

As with all family law, these requests and cases are determined on a case-by-case basis. It is a frequent issue, however, and is becoming more and more prevalent. The cases that we see this is the classic case of the financially dependent spouse-- where one spouse is a stay at home spouse or parent and the other spouse is the breadwinner.

The thing to remember, and something your attorney will counsel you on, is that you do need to be diligently looking for employment and showing an effort to provide for your means. You will have spousal support while the case is pending, but you want to ensure that you have plans for when the case concludes.

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