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Should I quit my job to escape paying spousal support in Texas?

The stresses of divorce sometimes inspire people to treat their soon to be ex-spouses with levels of animosity normally reserved only for lifelong enemies. In many cases, this bad behavior is actually counterproductive. You can unnecessarily jeopardize your career in a misguided attempt to achieve goals which are obtainable through legal means.

If you are currently engaged in a contested divorce you should know that the Texas Family Code took a major step in preventing unfairness back in 2011. That's when the legislature tightened laws regarding spousal support throughout Texas. Today, couples filing for divorce, on or after Sept. 1, 2011, are bound by new restrictions in the alimony rules. Those rules are geared toward doing what is "just and right" and essentially authorizes courts to only award amounts which cover a spouse' s minimum reasonable needs.

The changes implemented in 2011 establish certain eligibility conditions which must first be met before a spouse can be awarded maintenance. For example, the court is allowed to consider how long a couple has been married, the ability of each spouse to support themselves after the split, and the duration of time that a spouse receiving maintenance will require that assistance. In other words, a spouse seeking support is now going to have to make an argument stating that one lacks sufficient means to care for oneself. A court is going to want to see that that spouse is actively attempting to find work or return to school in order to acquire employable skills.

The current statute regarding spousal maintenance in Texas also puts a cap on the amount that a spouse must have to pay to another. The court is capped at awarding $5,000 per month or 20 percent of an individual's income to another spouse for maintenance.

Of course, these are only some of the broad strokes of the statute; a consultation with your attorney may help to reveal additional provisions in the law which may have beneficial results for you both during and after divorce litigation.

Source: Texas State Legislature-Statutes, "Dissolution of Marriage- Section 8.001" Oct. 22, 2014

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