Spousal Maintenance Awards in Texas Divorce Cases

Spousal Maintenance Awards in Texas Divorce Cases

Originally published by Robert Epstein.


A court in a Texas divorce case may only order spousal maintenance if certain conditions are met.  The court must then consider relevant factors in determining the duration, amount, and manner of the payments.  The other spouse may challenge a maintenance award if there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of eligibility for maintenance or if the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the specific award.

In a recent case, a husband challenged a maintenance award and the property division in his divorce.

Under Tex. Fam. Code Section 8.051, a spouse may receive spousal maintenance if he or she cannot earn enough income to meet his or her “minimum reasonable needs” due to certain specified circumstances.  In this instance, the applicable provision of the statute provides that a spouse may be eligible for maintenance if he or she does not have the ability to make sufficient income to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs and has been married for at least 10 years.

Maintenance is generally only available under this provision if the spouse has been diligent in trying to develop skills to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs during the separation and while the divorce case is pending, but this is a rebuttable presumption.

The husband argued the court had not made sufficient findings regarding the wife’s minimum reasonable needs to support its maintenance order.  The court considered several factors and found the wife earned $76,000 per year from working full time.  The court also found good cause to require the husband to pay $1,500 per month in spousal support from March 2018 to May 2021.

The appeals court found the express findings made by the court supported an implied finding the wife was eligible for a maintenance award.  The appeals court also found evidence in the record supporting the implied finding.  The wife had testified she needed the support to adjust to maintaining a household and improving her career.  She also provided a budget showing her monthly expenses exceeded her gross-monthly income and the child support she received.  The appeals court found this evidence was sufficient to show that her combined income and child support did not meet her minimum reasonable needs.

With some evidence supporting a trial court finding the wife had rebutted the presumption against maintenance, the appeals court could not find the trial court had abused its discretion.

The husband also argued the evidence did not support the amount of the award based on the statutory factors in Tex. Fam. Code Section 8.052. Under the statute, courts are to consider several factors in determining the amount and duration of a maintenance award.  In this case, the trial court considered those factors.

The appeals court found evidence supporting the statutory factors.  The wife had spent most of the 19-year marriage supporting the husband in his education and career.  She testified she had worked part-time for several years so she could be home with the children.  She had to increase her hours since the divorce case was filed.  She testified she would have a hard time finding a similar position locally if she lost her current job and that her employment was limited by the geographic restriction on the children’s primary residence designation. She also testified to having a serious medical condition.

There was evidence the husband made approximately $193,000 per year.  They had used their retirement to buy their first house. The appeals court noted the husband had been able to fund his accounts in the years since, but the wife had not. The wife testified regarding her lack of retirement savings, and there was evidence of an account in her name with $15,325.91.

The appeals court found there was evidence relating to the statutory factors the trial court could have based its determination on regarding the amount and duration of the maintenance payments. There was no abuse of discretion as to the amount, manner, or duration of the maintenance award.

The husband also argued the trial court abused its discretion in awarding the wife 70% of the community estate.  The divorce was granted on the grounds of insupportability.  The wife had spent most of the marriage caring for the children as a homemaker and supporting the husband’s pursuit of his own education and career.  The appeals court noted that the wife’s job and the geographic restriction limited her ability to obtain other employment. Furthermore, most of the assets she received in the property division were not liquid.  She would not have immediate access to those funds if she or the children needed them. The appeals court found no abuse of discretion in the property division.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

In this case, the appeals court found sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s order.  If you are facing a divorce, an experienced Texas divorce attorney will work with you to identify the evidence to support your case.  Call McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 to schedule a consultation.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.


Jeff Bezos divorce

3 Lessons To Learn From Jeff Bezos’ Divorce

Jeff Bezos divorceThe celebrity divorce of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage has generated thousands of news headlines as legal experts are weighing in on what might happen to their $137 billion fortune. This split will go down as one of the most expensive divorces in history.

Although most divorcing couples do not have nearly as much wealth at stake as the Bezos family, there still are some lessons to learn from their breakup.

Get a prenup!

Perhaps the most important takeaway is how valuable a prenuptial agreement can be in the event of divorce.

Most of the Bezos’ fortune was built during the course of their marriage. Since the couple lives in Washington, which is a community property state, most of their estate is subject to a 50-50 split.

Although more couples are requesting prenuptial agreements, they still are an underutilized tool that could save many divorcing spouses from a lot of headaches and heartbreak.

Unfortunately, prenups often are seen as a precursor to divorce and a detriment to marriage. After all, no one wants to even acknowledge the possibility of divorce when wedding bells are ringing.

But with approximately half of all marriages ending in divorce, you would be ignoring reality if you did not take steps to protect yourself from the worst-case scenario.

“It is important to understand that agreeing to a prenup is not planning on your marriage failing; it is providing a plan for how to deal with the property of the parties in the event the marriage does not last,” said Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joe Cordell. “It is only ever used in the event that the marriage fails, which could happen whether or not the prenup was signed.”

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

For Jeff Bezos, it was impossible to forecast the enormous fortune he would go on to build when he and MacKenzie first tied the knot. However, you do not have to be exorbitantly wealthy to benefit from a prenup. Generally, prenuptial agreements can cover:

  • Property rights
  • Rights for alimony or spousal support
  • Rights for attorney fees
  • Retirement accounts
  • Each party’s finances
  • Ownership rights in regards to life insurance or disability policies

It is important to get in touch with a men’s divorce attorney who can help you determine what to include in a prenuptial agreement and to ensure that it is in fact enforceable. This important step is possibly the best way to protect yourself from a nasty divorce.

Affairs can cost you

A potential confounding factor in Bezos’ divorce is that he started dating news anchor/actress Lauren Sanchez during the separation period from his wife. It is uncertain, but that relationship could give his wife MacKenzie more leverage.

In this day and age, judges are rarely concerned with who is to blame in the divorce since no-fault divorce is now the norm, but that relationship could spur MacKenzie to push for more in the divorce settlement than she might have otherwise.

In most cases, infidelity rarely affects the distribution of assets or child custody determinations, but it could impact alimony or spousal support depending on your state’s laws. A cheating spouse may lose their right to alimony if an affair can be proven, even with a no-fault divorce.

It pays to work things out

Although Amazon stakeholders are concerned about what this divorce could mean for the company, it is somewhat encouraging that the couple is at least reportedly parting on amicable terms.

In a tweet announcing the divorce, Bezos stated they are remaining “cherished friends.”

However, just because the divorce process begins on friendly terms is no guarantee it will remain that way. Cordell & Cordell Fairfax divorce attorney Aaron J. Weaver says he’s seen plenty of divorces start amicably before quickly deteriorating.

“What I’ve seen in my practice is it’s not uncommon for parties to start out in a collaborative way seeking settlement and at some point in time someone gets rubbed the wrong way in negotiations, pushes away from the table, and then sometimes mud starts getting slung,” Mr. Weaver said.

The unfortunate truth is that the family court system is set up in a way that breeds conflict. Society should do more to support amicable divorce as it is in the best interest of both parties involved and especially beneficial as the couple co-parents together if they have any children.

The post 3 Lessons To Learn From Jeff Bezos’ Divorce appeared first on Dads Divorce.


divorce recovery

How To Minimize Divorce Damage And Speed Your Recovery

divorce recoveryThe road to divorce recovery is typically long and arduous. Family court is set up in a way that tends to breed conflict, making amicable breakups tough to accomplish.

Unfortunately, the divorce process tends to be even more challenging for men and fathers. So many guys end up with alimony and child support payments that bleed them dry financially and far too many fathers are left with unfavorable child custody arrangements that limit the role they play in their children’s lives.

The stress and emotional turmoil of divorce increases the physical and mental health risks men are exposed to – divorce increases the rate of early mortality by up to 250 percent.

One of the reasons divorce wreaks so much havoc is that many guys make avoidable mistakes throughout the process that compound the damage. Here are some practical steps to take during divorce that can go a long way toward minimizing the harm done and speed your divorce recovery.

Meet with an attorney ASAP

There is a multitude of free information and resources available on the Internet that can be very useful throughout your divorce. There are literally thousands of helpful articles here on DadsDivorce and our partner sites, MensDivorce.com and MensRights.com.

However, most of the information you find while researching divorce online is generalized because every case is unique. It is difficult to determine how the laws and legal statutes are going to apply to your specific situation. It is a major mistake to try to resolve your case without the guidance of someone more knowledgeable on the topic.

You may have an aversion to getting an attorney involved and might prefer to handle the case on your own, especially if you and your ex are splitting on friendly terms. The problem is that the divorce process can cause amicable relationships to turn bitter without the help of legal professional to sort through the messy and confusing details.

At the very least, meet with an attorney for an initial consultation, which comes at a nominal free and sometimes is even free. This does not require retaining the attorney and can provide valuable information as you determine the next steps to take in your divorce.

The cost of a lawyer can be pricey, depending on how issues there are to sort out, but hiring an attorney who focuses on men’s and fathers’ rights is an investment that can save you from additional costs, headaches, and heartbreak in the long run.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Prioritize self-care

A certain amount of stress is unavoidable in most divorce cases. It ranks as the second-most stressful life event a person can experience. So keep in mind during your divorce that there are likely going to be days you feel completely overwhelmed.

Regardless of how messy your divorce gets, you can do yourself a huge favor by prioritizing taking care of yourself. That means eating right, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and doing what you can to maintain your mental health.

If you reach a point where you do not know how to cope with everything that is on your plate, consider seeing a licensed counselor or therapist. Mental health professional can help you figure out strategies to manage your stress better than you ever though was possible.

Budget responsibly

One reason divorce recovery is such an uphill climb for many guys is that it is so expensive. The cost of attorney fees, alimony, and child support can wipe out your bank account, and it can take years to get back on your feet.

One of the reasons hiring a family law attorney is such a worthwhile investment is that they can help minimize the long-term monetary damage of your divorce. However, there also are some steps you can personally take to keep yourself afloat financially.

Come up with a realistic budget that you can stick to before, during, and after divorce that factors in all of your monthly costs and expenses. This will give you a clear understanding of the money you have coming in and where all your money is going to each month. Once you have a detailed budget put together, you can then determine whether you need to trim some expenses or find a way to bring in more income.

It also is critical to avoid any major purchases before your divorce is final. If you are in a dispute over child support or alimony, your wife’s attorney likely will take note if you were able to drop a bunch of money on a new car and that could decrease your chances of winning.

The post How To Minimize Divorce Damage And Speed Your Recovery appeared first on Dads Divorce.


Full Disclosure and Fairness: What Women Need to Know When Marriage Ends and Discovery Begins - My Advocate Center

Full Disclosure and Fairness: What Women Need to Know When Marriage Ends and Discovery Begins – My Advocate Center

It’s not often that you hear divorced parties, whether a man or a woman, say they got a fair shake in the legal process but for women who have been stay-at-home mothers and/or gave up careers to support a husband, fairness, or the lack thereof, can be frightening and even permanently scarring.

Education of women at earlier stages in life is the core solution to this problem so you’ll read more about programs and tools over the coming year to address these issues.

Help shape educational programs and tools by providing as much detail about your experience as you can manage or muster! It is absolutely NOT a fun task to think back about what went wrong, what you wish you’d known about your family finances, spending habits, retirement plans, etc., and it can be even more painful to think about how your case was handled (or mishandled) by lawyers and experts. So, I don’t ask this of you lightly. If you cannot spare the time, energy or emotion to do it now, please save this page and come back to it later?

Specific to the needs of women and improving outcomes, including preserving peace of mind and stability along the way, please consider and answer these questions. If you think of questions – to help women or men – and do not see them here, please make notes and reach out using the Contact form on this website. Thank you!