Obtaining or Avoiding Spousal Maintenance

//Obtaining or Avoiding Spousal Maintenance
Obtaining or Avoiding Spousal Maintenance 2018-03-27T19:01:25+00:00

Obtaining or Avoiding Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance Can Benefit Payor and Recipient

While post-divorce spousal maintenance (alimony) is ordered only in specific circumstances in Texas and is limited in both amount and duration, divorcing couples can voluntarily agree to a higher amount of maintenance as part of their property settlement. Often, the payment of post-divorce spousal maintenance can benefit both parties. Kimberly D. Levi, a family law attorney in Houston, Texas, often contemplates the use of voluntary post-divorce spousal maintenance, under the proper circumstances, to meet certain specific expressed needs of her clients.

In Texas, courts can also order temporary spousal support while a divorce is pending. Temporary support may be available in the circumstance when one or the other of the parties to the divorce requires additional temporary income in order to meet that spouse’s basic financial needs while the divorce is pending. Depending upon the particular facts of a case, the court may award temporary support for only a few months or for the entire duration of the case.  Temporary support paid during a divorce action does not have tax consequences either for the payor or the payee.

Creative Ways to Use Spousal Maintenance

Even though family courts may not always require a spouse to pay post-divorce spousal maintenance, or may only require limited payments, spousal maintenance can still be used as a tool to create certain specific outcomes.

Suppose you are the primary family wage earner and a significant amount of your savings is in the form of retirement accounts, which are community property under Texas law. Your goal may be to keep as much of your retirement savings as possible.  Your spouse, on the other hand, may have a greater need for present monthly income to meet his or her monthly living expenses for a period of time post divorce.  In this instance, it may be more advantageous to your spouse to give up all or part of his or her interest in your retirement in exchange for the payment of a certain amount of spousal maintenance.  Generally, post divorce periodic support payments designed to equalize the division of the marital estate (as in the retirement example above) are not taxable events to either the payor or the payee.

When post-divorce spousal maintenance is court ordered or agreed to by the parties (and not being used to equalize the division of the marital estate), tax consequences of the payments must be considered.  Spousal maintenance is a taxable event for the person who receives it and tax-deductible for the person who pays it.

If you wish to become empowered about your rights regarding spousal maintenance as a tool, as a tax consideration, or as a way to provide or receive support, please contact family law attorney Kimberly D. Levi today to schedule a consultation.

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