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Can women be responsible for paying spousal maintenance?

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In one of our earlier blog articles, we discussed what spousal maintenance is and who's eligible for it. One of the misconceptions out there is that it's strictly men paying maintenance for women who became stay-at-home moms. While that's still definitely how a significant portion of the cases go, it can also worth the other way, with women paying men.

According to a MarketWatch article published last year, a survey of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers members determined that nearly half (45%) saw a rise in women paying alimony or spousal support, with more than half (54%) seeing an upward trend in women paying child support.

That stands to reason - the same article pointed out that four in 10 American families have women as the primary breadwinners. While there's still a gender gap between men and women on average when it comes to pay, there are some heterosexual couples in which women earn more than men.

As we pointed out in our article on spousal maintenance, the determination of who pays whom spousal maintenance depends in part on "each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse's financial resources on dissolution of the marriage," and "the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training."

That's an important element of spousal maintenance that can't be stressed enough. It's not intended to be money that the higher earner in a relationship pays forever. The best arguments for spousal maintenance involve a plan to move the spousal maintenance recipient toward independence. Whether it's a man or a woman asking for spousal maintenance, the party asking for spousal maintenance will be more successful if they go beyond just pointing out the discrepancy between the two incomes.

If you're on either side of the equation in a possible spousal maintenance case, the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance can consult with you on what you are and aren't entitled to under the Texas Family Code - as well as determining if there are creative solutions that exist for support even if spousal maintenance rules don't apply. It's possible that you may not be married for long enough to be eligible under spousal maintenance under the letter of the law, but can work out something in a negotiated settlement that allows both sides a chance to get what they want in their decree.

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