Last time I talked about qualifying for spousal maintenance if you have been married for at least ten years. To read that post, click here. As promised, today I will talk about another way of qualifying which involves family violence. The code states that the spouse seeking spousal maintenance must lack sufficient property to meet that spouse’s minimum needs. This section applies no matter how you try to qualify for spousal maintenance. The code then goes on to discuss different ways to qualify and with regard to family violence the code states:
the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child and the offense occurred:
(A) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or
(B) while the suit is pending…
Looking at just this language it is important to note that it is not enough for you to accuse your spouse of family violence, but your spouse must have been convicted or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence. Further it restricts the time to within two years of filing for divorce or while the divorce is pending. The importance of this is that if a spouse was convicted of family violence that occurred three years before the divorce it would not allow you to qualify for spousal maintenance.
So what is family violence? It includes acts that are intended to harm a family member or a threat that reasonably places that family member in fear of harm. Harm is not limited to physical harm but also includes sexual assaults. Family violence also includes abuse of a child that causes physical harm or sexual assault.
While family violence is difficult to talk about and you may want to try to block it out, in the context of making sure you can take care of yourself your attorney can only help you if you talk to him/her about it. Your attorney is your guide and confidant in legal proceedings and should be there to watch out for your interests, especially in situations involving family violence.