alimony explained in family law book

In Texas, spousal support (alimony) is often referred to as spousal maintenance. Its intention is to provide a lower earning spouse with the time needed to build and develop the skills and/or education needed to support him or herself after a divorce. Because of this intent, spousal maintenance is limited in duration and amount, and certain factors must be met for one spouse to receive maintenance payments.

Three Forms of Alimony

In Texas, alimony comes in three types:

  1. Temporary Spousal Support. This is a court ordered amount of financial support one spouse must pay to the other before entering a final divorce decree.
  1. Contract. Contractual alimony allows each spouse to agree to financial support payments as part of the divorce decree. This allows for more flexibility, as the paying party’s payments are tax deductible. In addition, provisions can be included that the higher-earning spouse will pay for the children’s school tuition or mortgage payment.
  1. Spousal Maintenance. This is similar to contractual alimony in that one spouse receives periodic payments from the former spouse. The difference, however, is that this form of alimony is court ordered.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance provides temporary support to a spouse who is unable to support him or herself. It is only ordered in limited circumstances. To receive spousal maintenance, the requesting spouse needs to show that he or she does not have enough property to provide for minimum reasonable needs.

The requesting spouse can also receive spousal support if he or she is unable to earn a sufficient income because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability.

In addition, if the couple was married for 10 or more years, and one party is unable to earn sufficient income, spousal support may be awarded.

Finally, if one spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage who needs substantial care due to a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning a sufficient income, spousal maintenance may be ordered.

How Spousal Maintenance Is Calculated

The court takes these factors into consideration when determining the amount and duration of support:

  • The financial resources of both spouses
  • The employment skills of both spouses
  • The education of both spouses
  • Time and effort for the seeking spouse to obtain sufficient education or skills to be self-sufficient
  • The length of the marriage
  • Ages of the spouses
  • Earning ability
  • Employment history
  • Health of the spouse seeking support
  • Child support
  • A spouse’s contribution as a homemaker
  • The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to provide for his or her needs
  • The financial conduct or misconduct of the spouses

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

The duration of spousal maintenance depends on two factors.

  1. It can be ordered to be paid indefinitely if the spouse seeking maintenance is disabled or taking care of a disabled child
  2. When disabilities are not a factor, maintenance is determined based on the duration of the marriage:
  • If the couple was married between 10 and 20 years, the requesting party can receive up to 5 years of support
  • If the couple was married for 20 to 30 years, the requesting party can receive up to 7 years of support
  • If the couple was married for more than 30 years, the requesting party can receive up to 10 years of support

How Much Is Paid?

The court can order monthly payments that do not exceed $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly income (whichever is smaller).

Get Help With Spousal Support Issues

Spousal support in Texas can be confusing. Make sure you choose a qualified family lawyer to help you properly navigate your spousal support case.

Need Help With Alimony in Texas?

Ben Carrasco is an experienced, dedicated family law attorney who will fight to get what you deserve. Call Ben today at (512) 320-9126 or request a consultation online!

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