Can My Spouse Quit Their Job To Avoid Paying Spousal Maintenance?


Can My Spouse Quit Their Job To Avoid Paying Spousal Maintenance

A higher-earning spouse may have to pay spousal maintenance after a divorce in Austin, Texas. However, they can easily change their employment situation if they wish. What if a spouse quits their job during a divorce to avoid paying spousal maintenance?

How this affects spousal maintenance can depend on many factors. Usually, quitting a job isn’t sufficient to change a spousal maintenance order. That means your spouse may still have to pay maintenance if they quit their job for the purpose of avoiding it.

Understanding Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Spousal maintenance refers to the payments one spouse may receive from another when a divorce is finalized. Other common terms for spousal maintenance are spousal support and alimony. Spousal maintenance is separate from child support.

Under the Texas Family Code, a court may order spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking it is unable to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs. One of the following must also apply for a court to award spousal maintenance in Texas:

  • The spouse who may pay spousal maintenance was convicted of or was given a deferred adjudication for an act of family violence. They must have committed the act against the spouse or their child during the marriage. In addition, they must have committed the act no more than two years before either spouse filed for divorce. Or, they must have committed the act while the divorce was still pending.
  • The spouse who wishes to receive spousal support is unable to provide for their own needs for certain legitimate reasons. They are a) having a physical or mental disability, b) having been married to their spouse for at least ten years and lacking the ability to earn an income to provide for their needs, or c) being the custodian of a child of the marriage whose care needs prevent them from getting a job that would provide for their minimum reasonable needs.


A court may also allow for spousal maintenance when both spouses agree to it. If no judge ordered maintenance, a spouse may agree to pay maintenance for a period of time if they wish.

Factors Affecting Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Deciding whether a spouse should receive maintenance isn’t the only responsibility a court has in these circumstances. The court must also determine how much maintenance a spouse will receive. A judge will also decide how long spousal maintenance continues.

A court in Texas may account for several factors when determining who pays spousal maintenance and what their support obligation may consist of. These factors are:

  • The property, sources of income, and general ability of a spouse to provide for their minimum reasonable needs
  • The education and skills of each spouse, and how long it may take an unemployed spouse to receive proper employment training
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The health, age, employment history, and other such relevant factors of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • Whether paying child support will affect either spouse’s ability to pay maintenance
  • Whether either spouse excessively spent their shared money or otherwise concealed or destroyed community property
  • The degree to which one spouse supported the training or education of the other
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • Whether a spouse contributed as a homemaker
  • Whether either spouse engaged in a form of marital misconduct, such as adultery
  • A history or pattern of family violence


The court’s goal is to determine which spouse is in a financial position to receive maintenance and which can pay it. Employment status is often a significant factor in these decisions. Thus, you might wonder how job losses can affect avoiding paying spousal orders both before and after divorce.

My Spouse Quit a Job Before Divorce: How Does This Impact Spousal Maintenance?

Divorce isn’t always civil. A spouse might attempt various unethical strategies to prevent you from receiving what you may deserve.

For example, perhaps your spouse earns more money than you. They might fear this will result in them having to pay spousal maintenance. They may quit their job accordingly. Doing so changes their financial situation. Perhaps they assume it will also change their financial responsibility when it comes to spousal maintenance.

It’s not necessarily that simple. The court doesn’t just account for a spouse’s current income when making spousal maintenance decisions. A judge will typically account for a spouse’s overall earning potential. Quitting or losing your job doesn’t alter your ability to make money.

A judge may also consider whether a spouse is acting in good faith. A judge might still require a spouse to pay spousal maintenance if it’s clear they quit a job to reduce their income.

What If a Spouse Loses a Job After the Court Issues a Spousal Maintenance Order?

two attorney talking if a spouse quit their job to avoid paying spousal maintenanceQuitting a job also may not avoid paying spousal maintainance after the divorce is finalized. If a husband or wife quits a job to avoid alimony, they may still have to pay it. However, your spouse could lose their job instead of quitting.

How spouses lose their jobs is an important factor in these scenarios. An ex may have intentionally tried to get fired to reduce maintenance payments. If you can provide evidence of this, the loss of a job might not affect a maintenance order.

There are instances in which it’s necessary to modify spousal maintenance orders due to legitimate job loss. If your ex lost their job for reasons outside their control, they may no longer be able to make maintenance payments. They can petition the court to modify a spousal maintenance order when this happens.

At the hearing on their petition, you can argue that the existing spousal maintenance order should remain in place. Consider hiring a lawyer when doing so.

Contact an Austin, Texas, Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

What if a spouse quits a job during a divorce to avoid paying spousal maintenance? What if they quit a job after the court orders them to pay spousal maintenance?

The answers to such questions can vary depending on your circumstances. At Smith Family Law, an Austin, TX, spousal maintenance attorney will gladly discuss them during a consultation. If you hire our team, we’ll advocate for your rights during discussions of spousal maintenance, both with your spouse’s lawyer and in court. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at
(512) 277-3166 for a free case review.

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Written by: Smith Family Law

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