Licensed to Practice in Texas and Colorado

Family Law | Minnesota Lawmakers Jump On Alimony Reform Bandwagon

Some obligee spouses in the Gopher State may no longer be eligible for spousal support payments under a new family law that took effect August 1, and although the alimony reform wave has washed ashore in a number of states, Texas is still bone dry.
Under current law, obligor spouses in Minnesota must continue paying alimony until the obligee spouse dies or remarries. Amid concerns that some support recipients are cohabitating with their partners and putting off marriage to continue their eligibility for support payments, the Legislature changed the law to allow obligor spouses to present proof of a “committed relationship” when requesting that their payments be terminated or modified.
The judge may consider a number of factors in these situations, including the seriousness of the committed relationship and the possible impact that modification would have on the obligee spouse both at the time and in the future.
Spousal Support in Texas
Aside from some 2011 modifications, the alimony law in Texas is very much the same today as it was when it first appeared in 1997. Back then, some observers predicted that the law would expand over the years until some obligee spouses were eligible for permanent payments. But the nationwide debate over the nature of spousal support, and specifically concerns over long-term payments, began a few years later and has effectively derailed any serious efforts to expand the law.
In some states, alimony is a standard part of most divorce decrees and is a way to equalize the standard of living between the former spouses. But that is not the case in Texas. In fact, Section 8 of the Family Code includes an evidentiary presumption against alimony, unless the obligee spouse lacks sufficient income and property to meet “minimum reasonable needs.” Courts have expressly refused to define this phrase, maintaining that the inquiry “is a fact-specific determination that should be made by the trial court on a case-by-case basis.”
In addition to insufficient income and property, a spouse’s disability, custody of a minor disabled child, and a few other non-economic events can be a basis for spousal support.
If the requesting spouse can overcome the presumption, the judge can examine a number of factors to set the amount and duration of payments. These factors, such as the relative economic status of the parties, have a common denominator: the obligee spouse’s need for support weighed against the obligor’s ability to pay.
The monthly amount is capped at $5,000 or 20 percent of the obligor spouse’s gross income; the duration of payments is tied to the length of the marriage. Section 8.054(2) says that support payments can only extend for “the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs,” at least in most cases.
Limited spousal support is available in Texas. For a free consultation with an attorney who stands up for your legal and financial rights, contact the Law Office of Bryan D. Perkins. We routinely handle cases in McKinney, Collin County and surrounding jurisdictions.

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