What Does ‘Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance’ Mean?
Attorneys have a terrible habit of speaking in “legalese” and forgetting that it’s a language our clients frequently do not speak. Often, though, it’s not our fault. The statutes are written using terminology that we, and the family court judges, have to use so that we all know we are talking about the same thing.
“Rehabilitative spousal maintenance” is an excellent example of legalese. Wouldn’t it be easier to say “temporary alimony”? Of course! However, the word “alimony” has traditionally referred only to the payment of support by a husband to a wife. These days a husband can petition for support payments so we use the gender neutral term “spousal maintenance.”
Why do we say “rehabilitative” instead of “temporary”? The Texas state legislators who wrote the law probably wanted to emphasize the purpose of this type of spousal maintenance – that is intended to be used by the recipient to “rehabilitate” herself or himself in terms of education or work experience to be able to support herself or himself financially.
In 2011, Texas rewrote the spousal maintenance laws, making significant changes and making it very clear that Texas prefers rehabilitative spousal maintenance over awards of permanent spousal maintenance. Texas’ rehabilitative spousal maintenance laws include specific requirements. The spouse requesting spousal maintenance must demonstrate that he or she lacks the financial resources (in terms of income or assets) to provide for his or her own “reasonable minimum needs.” The spouse must also demonstrate that one of the following is true:
- The requesting spouse is unable to work due to a physical or mental disability;
- The marriage lasted more than ten years;
- The requesting spouse has primary custody of a joint child who has a physical or mental disability; and/or
- The other spouse was convicted of a crime of family violence (or received a deferred adjudication) no more than two years before the divorce was filed.
The Texas spousal maintenance laws also place time limits and amount limits on rehabilitative maintenance. You can read the complete Texas alimony laws on the Texas state government’s Constitutions and Statutes website.
Contact Attorney Kevin Buchanan for Answers to Questions About Spousal Maintenance
Kevin Buchanan is a Dallas lawyer offering family law clients skillful and experienced representation with a strong emphasis on fairness, and on treating all clients with dignity and respect. If you have questions about alimony or spousal maintenance, he would be pleased to review your circumstances and offer his opinion. To schedule a private consultation, fill out the online intake form or call (214) 378-9500.