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I Lost My Job and Have Not Found Another: Will the Court Modify How Much Maintenance I Get?

In Texas, there are actually two types of spousal maintenance: negotiated maintenance, which represents compensation to you from your spouse for allowing him to keep certain assets in the divorce; and spousal maintenance, which the court may order under certain conditions. Generally, because negotiated alimony does not depend on your income and results from a contractual arrangement with your ex, courts will not modify negotiated maintenance to reflect your changed financial circumstances. If your ex, the paying spouse, loses his job or business and is unable to make payments, courts may adjust alimony payments to reflect his straightened circumstances.

Texas passed a new spousal maintenance law in 2011. This law permits courts to order spouses to pay enough to meet your minimum reasonable needs provided you or your ex-spouse meets one of the following criteria:

  • You and your spouse were married for ten years or longer.
  • Your spouse was convicted of a crime against you or your child that constitutes an “act of family violence” or received deferred adjudication for that crime, and that crime occurred within two years before you filed for divorce or while divorce was pending.

But meeting those criteria alone are not enough. Spousal maintenance in Texas is need-based, so you must also:

  • Be unable to earn sufficient income to provide for your minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability
  • Have custody of a child of your marriage who requires substantial care and supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents you from earning sufficient income
  • Lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for your minimum reasonable needs.

In those cases, the court can order spousal maintenance for a limited period of time: a maximum of five years if you were married between 10 and 20 years, seven years if married between 20 and 30 years, and a maximum of ten years if married 30 years or longer. Courts can order a maximum of $5,000 per month or 20 percent of your ex’s gross monthly income, whichever is smaller.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Lubbock. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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