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Struggling to Survive While the Divorce Drags on?

If you are having a tough time making ends meet while your divorce drags on, and on, and on, then this article is for you. Texas is a community property State. That means that, as a rule, all property acquired by either partner during a marriage belong to the marital estate, with the exception of property acquired by gift, or inheritance. In theory, those assets are held in common and as such, they are divided equally between the parties in the event of a divorce.


Because, in theory, an equal division of property allows each party to start a new life on an equal footing, spousal support was traditionally unavailable in Texas. As a practical matter, divorce is rarely that simple and in recent years Texas law has evolved to recognize that reality by allowing temporary spousal support in some circumstances. In fact, Texas law recognizes two classes of spousal support that are awarded at different points in the divorce process and require application of different legal standards. This post discusses the first class of spousal support: interim spousal support pending a final decree of divorce.


INTERIM SPOUSAL SUPPORT PURSUANT TO TEX. FAM. CODE SEC. 6.502


If you are going through a divorce and you are struggling to make ends meet, be aware that you may be entitled to an order requiring your spouse to pay temporary support, while you are waiting for the final divorce decree. This class of support derives from the duty of spouses to support one another that is codified in the Texas Family Code as well as the authority of Texas Judges to enter temporary orders governing the relationship between the parties to a suit for divorce.


As a rule, the standard for obtaining temporary support is that one spouse is financially dependent on the other and doesn't have enough money to meet their needs while the divorce is pending. The Judge has a great deal of discretion in determining whether to order interim support, but the principle issue is whether one spouse will be rendered destitute if they do not receive financial assistance from the other.


Interim support is not designed to guarantee that both parties have an equal standard of living while the divorce is pending; but, to ensure that one party does not fall into penury while the divorce is pending. As a practical matter, temporary interim support may also serve to prevent one party from obtaining an unfair advantage in the divorce because the other is pressed to accept an inequitable property settlement in order to alleviate pressing financial hardship. Some Factors, among potentially many others, that may be relevant to the court include:


- the parties' incomes, if both partners work;

- the education, skills and work experience of the partner requesting financial support;

- the parties' standard of living during the marriage;

- whether the partner seeking support has custody of the parties' children;

- whether the partner from whom support is sought exercises control over the community assets.


Bear in mind that "interim support" comes out of the community assets, and may be considered when community assets in the final decree of divorce. Moreover, the facts of each case are unique and any number or factors could weight in favor or against an interim support order. How long you have been married, wrongdoing during the marriage and whether you have wasted community assets on drugs, or gambling may also be relevant. Relationships ending in divorce tend to be complicated and any number of factors could influence the issue of interim support.


As a final note, please remember that whether you are entitled to spousal support has nothing to do with your sex. At this time in history, either partner in a heterosexual relationship may assume responsibility for maintaining the home, and providing primary care for the children. Which partner does so is usually a question of who has the greater earning capacity. If you are a stay-at-home husband then you may be entitled to interim support.


As always, the best way to find out if you may be entitled to interim spousal support is to consult a lawyer.


Christopher R Hutson


Christopher Robert Hutson, PLLC

1221 Abrams Rd., Ste. 100

Richardson, TX 75081

469.301.1067