Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in Texas

In this blog space, I have been examining alimony and the alimony reform movement in the United States. What about other states that don’t have alimony, such as Texas? How does post-divorce spousal support work there?

In the Lone Star State, spouses can agree on contractual alimony, also referred to as maintenance. Divorce courtordered alimony is only applied in limited circumstances in Texas. To be considered for alimony, a recent conviction or deferred adjudication resulting from a criminal family violence matter has to exist, or the couple has to have been married over ten years. The court may order spousal maintenance or spousal support for a spouse if the other spouse was convicted for family violence within two years before the date the petition for divorce was filed. In ten year old and older marriages, the divorce court may then award alimony (spousal maintenance or spousal support) in an amount necessary to meet the receiving spouse’s reasonable minimal needs. This spousal support payment amount can last for up to three years, or in situations where the receiving spouse suffers from a disability, for as long as the disability remains. It is not permanent alimony like we’ve seen in Massachusetts or Florida or New Jersey or Oregon – states I wrote about in earlier blogs on alimony reform.

While not alimony per se, Texas family and divorce courts may also award temporary spousal support  or spousal maintenence while a divorce case is pending, or in legalese, during its pendency. Courts in Texas generally award temporary spousal support to ensure that current bills are paid while the divorce proceeding is pending.

Spousal maintenance provides a spouse with periodic payments from the former spouse’s future income that continues after the divorce.

The spouse who is seeking spousal maintenance must show that he or she lacks sufficient resources to provide for his or her minimal reasonable needs. The spouse seeking future support must show that employment is difficult to maintain or gainful employment is not possible because of a physical or mental disability. Spousal maintenance may be ordered if a child has a disability that prevents the spouse from being employed outside the home. The courts may order spousal support if a spouse clearly lacks ability in the work place.

Factors that determine eligibility for a spouse to receive support in Texas are numerous, but the main factors the courts look to are these five:

  1.  All the financial resources of the spouse seeking support;
  2. Education and employment skills, time necessary for education or vocational training;
  3. Duration of the marriage;
  4. Age, employment history, earning ability, as well as the emotional and physical well being of the spouse; and
  5. The efforts of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to obtain suitable employment.
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