Alimony in Texas
Alimony, otherwise known as spousal maintenance in Texas, refers to a payment made by one spouse to the other following a divorce to help pay for basic needs.
In Texas, a spouse may qualify for spousal maintenance if certain criteria are met, but it is important to understand the basics of spousal maintenance in Texas before making any demands during a divorce.
If one spouse was the primary provider for the family before the divorce or separation, this spouse is typically required to provide support to the other spouse to cover any financial issues.
However, in Texas, there are very limited circumstances in which the court will award alimony.
Our experienced divorce attorneys in Houston have helped countless clients in the Houston area navigate a spousal maintenance request and are here to help you, too.
Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance in Texas
A divorce can seriously damage the financial situation of one or both persons involved. Consider a spouse who has left the workforce, and dedicated his or her life to being a stay-at-home parent or a caretaker of the home.
Following a divorce, this spouse will be forced to find employment but will have a lot of trouble receiving the same level of salary as was provided to them in their previous lifestyle.
This situation only gets more complicated when children are involved.
Those concerned about being able to financially support themselves following a divorce should seek the advice of a divorce attorney to determine what legal options are available, especially pertaining to alimony.
Factors Considered When Awarding Spousal Maintenance
If the court decides to award spousal maintenance to a spouse, it will look at the following factors to determine what amount is appropriate to award and how long the award of support should last.
- Each spouse’s financial resources at the time of divorce and ability to provide for their own basic needs
- Each spouse’s education and employment skills, how long it would take the receiving spouse to get education and training, and the availability of said training
- The length of the marriage
- Age, employment history, earning ability, physical and emotional health of the support receiving spouse
- Whether either spouse is paying child support and if so, whether any of that money is going to support the spouse’s basic needs
- Whether either spouse spent community property funds excessively or destroyed, concealed, or fraudulently disposed of property just prior to the divorce
- Whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the education or increased the earning ability of the other spouse
- Whether one spouse was a homemaker
- The non-marital property of each spouse
- Any acts of adultery or cruelty
- Any history or pattern of family violence
What Circumstances are Necessary for Alimony to be Awarded in Texas?
In Texas, there are two limited scenarios which may qualify a spouse to receive alimony:
- If a spouse has been convicted of a violent crime against his or her family.
- If the marriage has last for a period of 10 years or more.
The spouse seeking alimony support must be able to prove that he or she does not possess enough resources to live within a reasonable parameter. If a spouse is convicted of a violent crime against his or her family, then the date for the divorce petition must have occurred within the period of two years.
Additionally, if there are any children in the family with a disability that may prevent a spouse from employment (because the spouse needs to provide constant care to the disabled child), then alimony can absolutely be sought.
Any spouse that is capable of showing his or her inability to earn an adequate living should also be able to receive alimony payments.
However, even in a situation in which the judge does order that alimony be paid, there are still a number of limitations regarding what the spouse can receive, as well as what timeframe the alimony is allowed to continue for.
Under Texas law, there is a presumption that spouses do not qualify for spousal maintenance unless there are several strict criteria that are met. In order to qualify, a spouse must overcome this presumption and prove their eligibility for spousal support.
The spouse seeking spousal maintenance must show the court that they do not have enough assets at the time to provide for their basic needs and that one of the qualifying factors also exists:
- The other spouse was convicted of family violence within two years of filing for divorce or during divorce proceedings;
- Physical or mental disability prevents the support seeking a spouse from earning enough income to provide for basic needs;
- The spouses were married for ten years or longer; or
- The spouse seeking support is caring for a child with physical or mental disabilities that prevents the parent from earning enough income to provide for basic needs
Duration of Spousal Maintenance
Texas law limits the duration of a spousal maintenance award. The maximum length of time alimony may be awarded in Texas is the following:
- Five years: if the marriage lasted less than ten years and there is a conviction for family violence
- Five years: if the marriage lasted between ten and twenty years
- Seven years: if the marriage lasted between twenty and thirty years
- Ten years: if the marriage lasted thirty years or longer
Support will also be terminated if one of the spouses dies, the spouse receiving alimony remarries, or if the court determines that the spouse receiving support lives in a permanent home with another person in a dating or romantic relationship.
Amount of Texas Spousal Maintenance
The maximum amount of spousal maintenance that may be awarded under Texas laws is either $5,000 or twenty percent (20%) of the gross monthly income of the paying spouse, whichever is less.
Contact an alimony lawyer in Texas to discuss your legal options
If you have questions about paying or receiving spousal maintenance in a Houston divorce, our office may be able to help.