When a Texas couple divorces, one of the biggest issues that must be determined is if there will be spousal maintenance. For those with significant assets, the amount that will be paid to a former spouse can be significant. The former spouse who is set to receive maintenance might not have the capacity to earn enough on his or her own to sustain the lifestyle from the marriage. These and other factors will be part of the process to decide on how much spousal maintenance will be paid. Understanding the law for determining maintenance is important as the case moves forward.

The court will decide if maintenance is applicable, how much it will be, how long it will last and when the payments will be made. First, the spouse who is receiving maintenance must receive an amount that will meet the minimum needs. It is based on the person’s financial wherewithal at the time of the divorce. The receiving spouse may need time to accrue education or seek suitable employment for self-sufficiency. To meet the same lifestyle as the person had during the marriage – especially in a high-asset divorce – that can be complicated and the maintenance award will reflect that.

The length of the marriage is important. If the couple was married for a short duration, that will be viewed differently than a marriage that lasted for an extended time-period. Age will be a critical factor as will the person’s physical and emotional capabilities at the time of the divorce. The former spouse who is paying maintenance must also be able to meet his or her own needs in addition to the maintenance. That will be factored in with the award. If the receiving spouse contributed to the paying spouse’s advancement, building of a business, education and other aspects of career success, that will be a fundamental part of the award. If there was mistreatment or other forms of marital misconduct, that can impact the award.

Any divorce can be contentious and if there is a disagreement over spousal maintenance, it can quickly become acrimonious. A preferable way to settle the case is to agree on an amount and its duration. For high-asset couples, that may be difficult. With a conflict-laden case and disagreements related to financial issues, it is wise to have legal advice from the start. A law firm experienced in the complexities of high-asset divorce might be able to help.