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Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in Texas

Many of our divorce clients have questions alimony. How to get it, how to not pay it, how much is it etc. The Texas Family Code calls alimony spousal maintenance or spousal support. If you have a question about alimony or spousal support, our family lawyers offer free confidential consultations. We have decades of family law experience and can help you.

What is alimony, or spousal maintenance?

Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code defines spousal maintenance as post-divorce spousal support or “an award in a suit for dissolution of marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.” Spousal maintenance can be very difficult to obtain because the spouse seeking spousal maintenance must prove that they need it and must rebut the presumption for an award against receiving alimony.

Who is eligible for Alimony in Texas?

For eligibility of spousal maintenance, you must prove that you will lack sufficient property (including your separate property or any community property/assets awarded to you) after the divorce is finalized to provide for your minimum basic needs. This means the Court will take inventory of everything you are awarded in the divorce and if you still cannot provide for your minimum basic needs, you overcome the first step.

10 Year Marriage Alimony Rule

The most common second question is whether you and your spouse have been married for at least 10 years or longer. If you do not meet the duration of marriage requirement, there are other factors that might create eligibility. For instance, if the nonrequesting spouse has been convicted of an act of family violence (as defined in Texas Family Code Section 71.004) against you or your child within 2 years of filing for divorce or while the case is pending then you can be eligible for spousal maintenance.

Alimony and Disability

If you have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from earning sufficient income to meet your minimum basic needs, then you will be eligible. Finally, if you are the custodian of a child of the marriage who is mentally or physically disabled and this prevents you from earning sufficient income to meet your minimum basic needs then you will be eligible for spousal maintenance. Merely establish eligibility for alimony does not guarantee that the Court will award you spousal maintenance. Alimony is still determined on a case-by-case basis and there are several factors the court will consider when determining whether or not to award spousal maintenance.

First, as stated before, the Court will look at your ability alone to provide for your minimum reasonable needs (looking at all of your sources of income, including property awarded). Another important factor is your education and employment skills. In fact, the Court will consider how many jobs you have had, whether you are in college (developing skills), whether you have been seeking income sufficient to meet your needs, etc.

Once you overcome all of these steps or requirements and the Court awards you spousal maintenance, then the Court must determine duration and amount of spousal maintenance. Duration is dependent upon the factors discussed in eligibility—length of marriage, disability of spouse or of child cared for by spouse, or any other compelling impediment. For example, if you have been married for 10-19 years, then the legislature allows for spousal maintenance for a maximum of 5 years. However, this is a maximum period as the legislature requires that the duration be limited to the shortest reasonable period required for you (the requesting spouse) to be able to earn sufficient income to provide for your minimum reasonable needs. The amount of maintenance is the lessor of $5,000.00 monthly or 20% of the providing spouse’s monthly gross income. Even given this statutory calculation, you must also consider if the spouse will be paying any child support.

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