Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 197th District Court of Cameron County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Hinojosa
ROGELIO VALDEZ Chief Justice
marriage that lasted fourteen years, appellant Fadi Alfayoumi
and appellee Tharwah Alzoubi filed cross petitions for
divorce. Following a bench trial, the trial court entered a
final decree of divorce. By one issue, Alfayoumi contends the
trial court erred in awarding Alzoubi $5, 000 per month in
spousal maintenance. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
8.001 (1) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). By three cross
issues, Alzoubi contends the trial court erred in: (1)
failing to appoint her as managing conservator of two
children born of the marriage, see Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 153.131; (2) failing to grant the divorce based
on cruel treatment, see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
6.002; and (3) failing to reconstitute the community estate
based on fraud, see Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
7.009. We affirm.
sole issue on appeal challenges the trial court's
decision to award Alzoubi spousal maintenance. See
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.001(1).
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
review the trial court's decision to award spousal
maintenance for an abuse of discretion. See Lopez v.
Lopez, 55 S.W.3d 194, 198 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2001, no pet.). A trial court does not abuse its discretion
if there is some evidence of a substantive and probative
character to support the decision. Id.
maintenance is an award of "periodic payments from the
future income of one spouse for the support of the other
spouse." See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
8.001(1). The purpose of spousal maintenance is "to
provide temporary and rehabilitative support for a spouse
whose ability for self-support is lacking or has deteriorated
over time while engaged in homemaking activities and whose
capital assets are insufficient to provide support."
O'Carolan v. Hopper, 71 S.W.3d 529, 533 (Tex.
App.-Austin 2002, no pet.).
code section 8.051(2)(B) provides that a spouse is eligible
to receive spousal maintenance if the spouse "lacks the
ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the
spouse's minimum reasonable needs[.]" Id.
§ 8.051(2)(B). There is a rebuttable presumption that
maintenance under section 8.051(2)(B) is not warranted unless
the spouse seeking maintenance has exercised diligence in
developing the necessary skills to provide for the
spouse's minimum reasonable needs during a period of
separation and during the time the suit for dissolution of
the marriage is pending. Id. § 8.053(a)(2). The
term "minimum reasonable needs" is not statutorily
defined. Slicker v. Slicker, 464 S.W.3d 850, 860
(Tex. App.-Dallas 2015, no pet.) (citing Cooper v.
Cooper, 176 S.W.3d 62, 64 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.]
2004, no pet.)). Instead, minimum reasonable need is a
fact-specific inquiry, which courts determine on a
case-by-case basis. Slicker, 464 S.W.3d at 860
(citing Amos v. Amos, 79 S.W.3d 747, 749 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi 2002, no pet.)).
consider several factors in determining spousal maintenance.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.052. These factors
include: the financial resources, age, employment history,
earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the
spouse seeking maintenance; the time necessary to acquire
sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking
maintenance to earn sufficient income; the contribution by
one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning
power of the other spouse; the contribution of a spouse as
homemaker; any history or pattern of family violence; and the
comparative financial resources of the spouses. Id.
record shows that after Alzoubi and Alfayoumi separated from
each other, Alzoubi resumed her pursuit of a career in the
medical profession by returning to college for the purpose of
obtaining a master's degree in nursing. Based on this
evidence, the trial court could have found that Alzoubi
overcame the presumption disfavoring spousal maintenance on
the basis that she demonstrated diligence in developing the
necessary skills to provide for her minimum reasonable needs
by returning to college. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
record further shows that Alzoubi put her professional career
on hold during her fourteen-year marriage and became a
homemaker for Alfayoumi and their two children. See
id. § 8.052. While Alzoubi labored in this role for
many years, Alfayoumi had the opportunity to attend and
graduate from medical school. See id. At the time of
trial, Alfayoumi reported a yearly salary of approximately
$500, 000 working as a medical doctor. Moreover, although
Alfayoumi denied a history of family violence, Alzoubi
maintained that Alfayoumi beat her several times ...