Spousal Support / Alimony

Denton & Cooke County Spousal Support / Alimony Attorney

Does Texas have Spousal Maintenance or Alimony?

In Texas, alimony is called “spousal maintenance” or “maintenance” and it is determined on a case-by-case basis.

A party can request spousal maintenance if certain qualifying conditions exist, but the court can only award maintenance if the requesting spouse doesn’t have enough property at the time of the divorce to provide for “basic” needs, and at least one of the following circumstances exist:

  • the supporting spouse was convicted of an act of family violence against the other spouse or the couple’s children within two years of the divorce filing, or while the divorce is pending,
  • the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn enough income to be self-supporting due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability,
  • the couple has been married for at least ten years (at that time, not when the divorce was filed) and the dependent spouse lacks the ability to earn income to meet basic needs, or
  • the supported spouse is a custodial parent of a child who requires substantial care or personal supervision due to a mental or physical disability which prevents the parent from working and earning an income.

Factors the Court consider when determining whether to award spousal maintenance:

  • each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs
  • the education and employment skills of both spouses, the time necessary to acquire education or training to enable the supported spouse to earn enough income to become financially independent
  • the duration of the marriage
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • if child support is a factor in the case, each spouse’s ability to meet needs while paying child support
  • whether either spouse wasted, concealed, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of any community property
  • whether either spouse contributed to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power during the marriage
  • the property both spouses brought to the marriage
  • any contributions of a spouse as a homemaker
  • marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage, and
  • any history or pattern of family violence. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.052)

In addition, the spouse seeking spousal maintenance must demonstrate that they have made a diligent search for employment, employment related training, as well as any other educational opportunities.

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Duration of Maintenance

If the Court orders one spouse to pay spousal maintenance to the other spouse because of a physical or mental disability, the existing duties as a custodial parent of an infant, young child, or a disabled child, or any other compelling reason, then the support may last for as long as that condition exists. However, this is subject to future review. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054(2))

For other situations the duration of spousal maintenance is limited to:

  • five years, if the spouses were married less than 10 years and the supporting spouse was convicted of family violence
  • five years, if the spouses were married more than 10 years but less than 20 years
  • seven years, if the spouses were married for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years, and
  • ten years, if the spouses were married for at least 30 or more years. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054 (1))

With certain limited exceptions, Texas law requires judges to order maintenance for the shortest duration necessary for the supported spouse to become “self-supporting.”

The issue of spousal maintenance can be a complex one. If you are facing or considering a divorce, call today to speak to an attorney who can help determine if you may qualify for spousal maintenance.