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Recent Changes in Texas Divorce Family Code Affect Williamson County Alimony

Over the past two years, the Texas legislature has amended several provisions of the Texas Family Code related to spousal maintenance in divorce. Understanding these new spousal maintenance provisions and whether a spouse in a divorce may benefit from them is essential to proceeding with a claim for (or a defense against) spousal maintenance.

A court may order spousal maintenance upon request of a party if the court determines that a divorcing party meets the eligibility requirements. Once eligibility has been established, a court will consider several comprehensive factors to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance a party is to receive. Instead of a general 3 year cap for non-disabled spouses, a spouse may now be eligible for up to 5, 7, or even 10 years of future spousal maintenance following divorce. Indefinite spousal maintenance may be awarded under certain circumstances. Texas spousal maintenance in divorce may be calculated up to $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse's average monthly gross income, whichever is less.

In most instances, a layperson is at a disadvantage if they choose to forego retaining a family law attorney and represent themselves in a legal capacity (also referred to as "pro se") because they often do not fully understand the legal ramifications of something as simple as which term they use to describe the support a spouse will be receiving under Texas law. A pro se divorcing spouse may easily be misled by terms such as "spousal support" and "contractual alimony" being used interchangeably when, in fact, the two terms actually have quite different intents and legal outcomes: one being enforceable by contempt, the other being enforceable as a common debt.

When considering divorce or taking legal action to modify an existing divorce decree for spousal maintenance or contractual alimony, the divorce lawyers and family law attorneys at Patricia L. Brown & Associates can provide sound legal counsel and understanding of one's rights and options in a divorce suit. For more information about Patricia L. Brown & Associates, please visit our website at www.pbrownlaw.com or call (512) 246-1149 to schedule your consultation today. The law office of Patricia L. Brown represents clients local clients from central Texas, particularly Williamson County, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Hutto, Georgetown, and northern Travis County, including Pflugerville and Wells Branch, Texas.

Source: Wilson Legal Group, P.C., Dallas

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