Spousal support (referred to as alimony in other states) is an award in a divorce suit of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. A court may order either spouse to pay maintenance for the other spouse if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, and either of the following circumstances applies:
- The spouse seeking maintenance has been married to the other spouse for at least 10 years and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
- The spouse seeking maintenance is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
Spousal support may also be ordered if the spouse from whom support is requested was convicted of, or received deferred adjudication for, a criminal offense constituting family violence, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child, and the offense occurred either within two years before the divorce suit was filed or while the suit was pending.
Spousal support is intended to be of limited duration. The court is required to limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her own minimum reasonable needs. The maximum duration of spousal support is five years if the spouses were married to each other for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years.
The maximum amount of monthly spousal support allowed under the Texas Family Code is $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever figure is lower.