Dennis Quaid Divorce Reveals Tough Alimony Laws in Texas

Actor Dennis Quaid, the more reserved brother of Vancouver resident, Randy Quaid, is in the throes of his third divorce. He and his estranged wife, Kimberly Buffington Quaid, were married for seven years.

In 2007 the Quaid’s had twins who almost died after mistakenly receiving an overdose of a blood thinner while in the care of the prestigious Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. The Quaids were awarded $500,000.00 in compensation for their infants’ ordeal.

The divorce petition filed by Ms. Quaid last week in their home state of Texas alleges a conflict of personalities and the relief sought includes a division of assets and spousal support.

That’s where it gets tough, especially for Ms. Quaid. Until very recently, spousal support would only be awarded if the potential recipient had suffered physical abuse from her spouse, and the violence resulted in a conviction against the assaultive spouse, or the spouses had been married for at least ten years. If one qualified for support the term of support was limited to three years and the lesser of $2500.00 per month or 20% of the payor’s income.

In September 2011 the support law was amended to provide that support could be paid, in cases of family violence and a ten-year marriage, to a maximum amount of $5000.00 per month for a period no longer than five years. If a marriage lasted between ten and twenty years, support could be paid for seven years and marriages over thirty years could result in support payments for ten years.

While a number of U.S. states are overhauling their spousal support laws to limit spousal support payments and eliminate life-time support, Texas has been ahead of the curve for many years.

If one compares Texas support law to British Columbia support law, there is a stark difference. While Texan spouses are subject to onerous eligibility criteria, British Columbian spouses will typically receive support, particularly if they did not work during the marriage, with the amount being based on the husband’s income and the family’s lifestyle during the marriage. Certainly, there are no caps of $2500.00 or $5000 per month.

In fact, it is not unusual in B.C. to see indefinite support awards of upwards of $10,000 per month. Texan men have it easy when it comes to spousal support

I expect that in troubled Texan marriages husbands have a significant incentive to pull the plug before year ten has come to an end. Sounds like the good ol’ boys club is flourishing.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang