Texas Alimony | Am I Eligible For Spousal Support In Texas?
Report: Alimony in Texas – Divorce is one of the most emotional proceedings in Texas courts. What can make divorce an even more emotional happening is the possibility of supporting an ex-spouse, oftentimes in addition to the division of community property and the payment of child support. This can be overwhelming for the spouse that is ordered to pay spousal support or maintenance. However, this may be a just and right solution to the ex-spouse who is unable to earn enough income due to barriers created during the marriage. Spousal support, a/k/a Alimony…or what the Texas statute refers to as spousal maintenance, is a fortunate solution for ex-spouses. What is spousal support and who is eligible? Let’s discuss.
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Alimony in Texas
Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance?
Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code defines ‘maintenance’ as, “an award in a suit for dissolution of a marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.”
The Code states that the award of spousal maintenance would oblige one spouse to make periodic payments from future income to support the other spouse.
Do I Have to Pay Alimony?
An ex-spouse is not automatically eligible for spousal maintenance. Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code also outlines who in fact may apply for and receive spousal maintenance.
What Qualifies for Alimony in Texas
Texas Family Code Section 8.051 Eligibility for Maintenance
In a suit for dissolution of a marriage or in a proceeding for maintenance in a court with personal jurisdiction over both former spouses […] the court may order maintenance for either spouse only if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs and:
- the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child and the offense occurred: (A) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or(B) while the suit is pending; or
- the spouse seeking maintenance:
(A) is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
(B) has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
(C) is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
In short, the court will consider whether the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property — including the spouse’s separate property–on dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs. The court will also determine whether spousal abuse and family violence were present during the marriage against the other spouse or child of the spouse within two years before the divorce or during the divorce.
The court will also award maintenance to a spouse that is mentally of physically incapacitated; has been married to the spouse for 10 years or more and lacks sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimal needs; or is the custodian of a child of the marriage, regardless of the child’s age, who requires substantial care and personal supervision.
It is important to note that the court will also take into consideration whether the spouse filing for maintenance has exercised diligence in, “earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or developing the necessary skills to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs during a period of separation and during the time the suit for dissolution of the marriage is pending.”
Texas Family Code Sec. 8.052 Factors in Determining Maintenance
Sec. 8.052. FACTORS IN DETERMINING MAINTENANCE. A court that determines that a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance under this chapter shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments by considering all relevant factors, including:
(1) each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse’s financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;
(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
(3) the duration of the marriage;
(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(5) the effect on each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;
(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
(7) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(8) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(9) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(10) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and
(11) any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004.
How Long Can I Get Alimony?
Texas Family Code Sec. 8.054 Duration of Maintenance Order
Sec. 8.054. DURATION OF MAINTENANCE ORDER. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a court:
(1) may not order maintenance that remains in effect for more than:
(A) five years after the date of the order, if:
(i) the spouses were married to each other for less than 10 years and the eligibility of the spouse for whom maintenance is ordered is established under Section 8.051(1); or
(ii) the spouses were married to each other for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years;
(B) seven years after the date of the order, if the spouses were married to each other for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years; or
(C) 10 years after the date of the order, if the spouses were married to each other for 30 years or more; and
(2) shall limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, unless the ability of the spouse to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs is substantially or totally diminished because of:
(A) physical or mental disability of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(B) duties as the custodian of an infant or young child of the marriage; or
(C) another compelling impediment to earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
(b) The court may order maintenance for a spouse to whom Section 8.051(2)(A) or (C) applies for as long as the spouse continues to satisfy the eligibility criteria prescribed by the applicable provision.
(c) On the request of either party or on the court’s own motion, the court may order the periodic review of its order for maintenance under Subsection (b).
(d) The continuation of maintenance ordered under Subsection (b) is subject to a motion to modify as provided by Section 8.057.
Alimony in Texas FAQ
What qualifies for Alimony in Texas?
Generally speaking, the Texas Family Law Code does not provide for Alimony. However, spouses who are getting divorced in Texas can contract for spousal support, which is what Texas law calls alimony in Texas. See Texas Family Code Sec. 8.051 Eligibility for Maintenance referenced in the top half of this article.
Can a Working Wife Get Alimony in Texas?
YES, A WORKING WIFE CAN GET ALIMONY IN TEXAS! Generally speaking, divorcing spouses are free to contract for spousal support, also known as alimony. You can find out the requirements for alimony by checking out the top half of this article where we go over the Texas Family Code Sec. 8.051 Eligibility for Maintenance.
How long do you pay alimony in Texas?
Generally speaking, and in accordance with Texas Family Law Code Sec. 8.052 Factors in Determining Maintenance, the Court will determine the duration of spousal maintenance, what Texas calls Alimony. See Tex Fam Code Sec. 8.052 referenced above in this article.
Attorney Daryl Longworth is a family law attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas. He is the senior attorney at The Longworth Law Firm in Houston, Texas. Mr. Longworth is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to becoming a licensed attorney focusing on divorce law and family law in Texas, Mr. Longworth was a police officer for the Houston Police Department.