Can Alimony Be Ordered If It Will Bankrupt The Paying Party?

Question:

My wife filed for divorce shortly before learning she had cancer and is requesting alimony.

We were married for almost 20 years and she was a stay-at-home mom for the most part, though she said she recently quit her part-time job because of her illness.

At this point, it appears the judge is planning to order me to pay all of her bills, including mortgage and medical expenses, in addition to the child support and alimony payments he is considering.

All of these additional payments will quickly bankrupt me.

Can I be ordered to provide alimony in such an excessive amount that I’m left destitute?

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Texas law where I am licensed to practice.

The short answer to your question is no. The first step in the spousal maintenance equation is determining if your wife is even eligible to receive it.

Under your circumstances, according to Texas law, it sounds like she is because you have been married 10 or more years and she is unable to support herself through employment because of a physical disability.

However, she must also prove that she lacks sufficient property, including the property that will be awarded to her upon divorce, to provide for her minimum reasonable needs. It is also her burden to prove that she is unable to work.

The court will also look at several factors provided by your state’s family code in determining this, including the financial resources of your wife, her education and employment skills, the duration of the marriage, her age and employment history, the fact that she was a stay-at-home mom, and also your ability to provide for yourself, pay child support and pay alimony.

If you are ordered to pay spousal maintenance then it could continue as long as her disability does. However, the amount should be the lesser of $2,500 or 20% of your average gross monthly income and no more than what is needed to meet her minimum reasonable needs, according to Texas law.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Amanda L. Clepper, an associate attorney in the San Antonio, Texas, office, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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