As we recently discussed (here), it is only under specific circumstances that a Texas court may award spousal support to a party at the end of a Texas divorce case. If those circumstances do not exist, then the court is unable to make that award. Today, we will look at a related issue: a Texas court’s ability to award Temporary Spousal Support.

What is Temporary Spousal Support? It is financial support that one party to a divorce is ordered to give to his or her spouse during the divorce case. As such, it necessarily terminates at either the conclusion of that divorce case, or earlier, as may be ordered by the court. Its purpose is to protect the welfare of the financially-dependent spouse during the time period for which it is ordered. Temporary Spousal Support is based on the legal duty of each spouse to support the other one during the existence of their marriage to one another; and, even after a divorce case has been filed by one of those spouses, the marriage, and that support obligation, still exist until the divorce is granted.

What types of support might be awarded? Sometimes the temporary support is ordered to be made by one spouse paying money directly to his or her financially-dependent spouse. Other times, the payment of certain expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, or a car note, is ordered as Temporary Spousal Support. In either case, the court can consider that support awarded and paid when dividing the parties’ Community Estate at the end of the divorce case.

So, how does the court determine whether to order temporary spousal support? The easiest way is when the parties have made agreements about it. Without such an agreement, however, the court will need to hold a hearing, and consider the financial evidence that is provided by the parties. Such evidence will necessarily include information as to each party’s earnings and earnings capacities; what bills and other liabilities exist, and the necessity of maintaining those bills and liabilities.

How is it proved to be needed? The party seeking the temporary spousal support has the burden of proving that it is needed in a particular case. Consequently, he or she will need to prepare a Financial Information Statement, and obtain relevant records such as the tax records of the parties. Most other documents, such as bills, are Hearsay, and can only be admitted (over objection from the opposing party) by the laying of proper evidentiary predicate. While the broad, technical, and often complex issues of Courtroom Evidence are way beyond the scope of this writing, suffice it to say that careful thought must be given ahead of time as to which documents are material, relevant, and admissible under our law. The courtroom is not the place to “wing it.”

Whether temporary support is awarded often determines if a party will be able to make it financially though the divorce. Consequently, it should be taken seriously.

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