Alimony and Spousal Support in Texas

definition of alimony in the dictionaryThere is some good news for people going through a divorce and in need of alimony and spousal support in Texas. While in other jurisdictions alimony and spousal support are a virtually synonymous term, that is not the case in the Lone Star State. Texas courts prefer the phrase “spousal maintenance.”

For generations, Texas was one of the most difficult states in the country in which to qualify for such support. Relatively brief marriages – less than 10 years – usually did not meet the criteria for any type of spousal maintenance. While Texas still lags behind most states when it comes to spousal maintenance, a law in place since 2012 does improve the situation somewhat when it comes to spouses in need of support to meet basic needs.

A Community Property State

In other states, legal separation usually precedes divorce. That is not the case in Texas. No matter how long a couple has lived apart, they are legally married until the divorce decree is final. As a community property state, all of the property – and debt – acquired during the marriage belongs to both people, regardless of titling. This can play a role in the way spousal maintenance is determined by the court.

Determining Spousal Support

Under Texas law, various factors come into play in determining spousal support. These include the following circumstances affecting the spouse requesting support:

  • Education
  • Personal financial resources
  • Employment history
  • Contribution to the other spouse’s education, i.e., helping to put the former spouse through school
  • Homemaker history
  • Property brought to the marriage
  • Health – both physical and mental

Other factors that may affect a court’s decision regarding spousal support include whether adultery was involved on the part of either spouse or if there was a history of domestic violence in the marriage.

Maximum Alimony Support in Texas

The maximum amount of support a court may grant the recipient spouse is $5,000 a month, although that number cannot exceed 20 percent of the paying spouse’s income.

Spousal Support Duration

Prior to 2012, spousal maintenance payments were limited to just three years. Now, the court may permit maintenance for up to five years in a marriage lasting over 10 years but less than 20 years; seven years if the marriage lasted more than 20 years but less than 30 years, and up to 10 years if the marriage lasted more than 30 years. There are exceptions based on spousal disability or a history of family violence.

Contractual Alimony

Alimony does not depend on a court decision but is part of the divorcing couple’s property settlement. For the person paying the alimony, the amount is deductible on federal taxes, while the alimony recipient must report the income on his or her tax forms.

Contact Divorce Attorney Alison Grant

The financial consequences of divorce are often devastating. Anyone going through this process needs a lawyer specializing in family law. If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney, call Alison Grant at 972-434-0021, or contact her online.