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Can You Get Alimony In Texas

Alimony & Spousal Support In Texas

Can I get alimony in a Texas divorce?

The idea of spousal maintenance usually raises an eyebrow among many men going through divorce. This article is intended to alleviate some of the anxiety that can be created regarding the potential of paying spousal maintenance.

Almost every man facing divorce in Texas has asked his divorce lawyer Will I have to pay spousal support after the divorce is final?

Enforcement Of Spousal Maintenance

Courts have the ability to enforce spousal maintenance orders using their contempt powers, according to Section 8.059 of the Texas Family Code. Under Texas Government Code Sec. 21.002, when a party is held in contempt, it means that fines or jail time can be ordered by the court for a failure to comply.

Defenses for the spouse that is being held in contempt include:

  • Being unable to borrow the necessary funds successfully
  • Not being able to afford the amount due
  • Having no source to obtain the money legally
  • Lacking property that could be sold in order to cover the amount due

Paying for court-ordered spousal maintenance is only one of the financial considerations individuals have to think about when getting divorced. The entire process can be quite expensive, and it might be prudent to consider some of the cheap divorce options in Texas if you are concerned about how divorce will impact your financial situation.

Does Child Support Affect Spousal Maintenance

Child support is factored into spousal support payments in Texas. The courts consider income, the number of children requiring support, and other similar factors as part of the overall maintenance determination.

The state uses a formula to determine the amount that should be paid, ranging from 20% of net resources for one child up to 40% when five or more children are involved.

Judges do have some discretion on how much support to grant based on several factors such as the childs age and needs, educational expenses, health insurance costs, medical expenses, child care costs, and other factors, aside from spousal maintenance amounts.

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How Long Do You Pay Alimony In Texas

If the court decides to award spousal maintenance, the following parameters set the boundaries for how long the award can last.

1. Up to 5 years of post-divorce support. This the applicable cap if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the requesting spouse can show eligibility under scenario #1 above or the marriage lasted at least 10 years but less than 20 years.

2. Up to 7 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted at least 20 years but less than 30 years.

3. Up to 10 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted 30 years or more.

4. For scenarios #2 and #2 above, the support award can last indefinitely so long as the underlying eligibility criteria continue to exist.

This article is only a brief review of some of the laws in Texas relating to spousal maintenance and is not meant as a substitute for the advice of counsel. It is important to consult a Texas divorce attorney in each case before taking any action.

*This article only addresses spousal maintenance paid once a divorce is final. Other rules apply to when a court can award spousal support during a divorce proceeding.

How To Calculate Alimony In Texas

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Alimony in Texas can be complex because Texas differs from other states in its alimony laws. Heres how to calculate alimony in Texas.

To calculate alimony in Texas, spouses must meet the eligibility for alimony. The court grants alimony to the receiving spouse based on the paying spouses income.

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Spousal Maintenance And Contractual Alimony

The two other types of spousal support in Texas are contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. These support types would go into effect after the divorce has concluded and you and your spouse are now ex-spouses.

Contractual alimony is the only one of the three types of spousal support that contains the word alimony. This type of support is negotiated between you and your spouse in mediation rather than decided by a judge. The nice part about negotiation is that you and your spouses have direct control over how much is paid, how often, and for how long. Once you go to court, you lose a ton of autonomy when it comes to things like that.

It would help if you came prepared to mediate with a household budget showing why you are asking for the sum of money you are requesting your spouse to pay you. Keep in mind that your minimum basic needs have to be met, not something extravagant. The foundation of a successful push for contractual alimony is a significant income gap between you and your spouse, the inability to go out and earn a living for yourself in the immediate future, the need to go back to school to finish/start a degree or certification, your having a disability or caring for a child with a disability. If you have any of these scenarios playing themselves out in your life, then you have a chance to be successful in a push to negotiate for contractual alimony.

Is It Hard To Get Alimony In Texas

The state of Texas does not generally favor spousal maintenance, and the laws of the Lone Star State are quite narrow when it comes to court-ordered alimony when compared to other states. The spouse that is asking to receive spousal maintenance has to fulfill the qualifications listed above in order for a court to consider awarding them maintenance.

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Eligibility Under The Texas Court System

To be awarded spousal maintenance, the spouse requesting the support must meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the Texas Family Code. The foundational requirement, and most important one, is that the spouse seeking support must be unable to meet their minimum reasonable needs post-divorce. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051. Once that first requirement is met, the requesting spouse must also meet one of the following ):

The spouse from whom support is requested is convicted of a criminal act of family violence during the marriage either during the two years prior to the suit or during the time while the divorce suit is pending or

The spouse seeking support:

  • Is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability
  • Has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouses minimum reasonable needs or
  • Is the custodian of a child of the marriage 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 spouses minimum reasonable needs.

After the court determines that the spouse seeking spousal support is eligible, it will look to numerous relevant factors to determine the nature of the support, amount, duration, and manner of payment ):

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Texas Alimony Law Restrictive As Compared To That Of Most Other States

    Can I Get Spousal Support in Texas?

    In Texas, the court is restricted in its power to grant spousal support by state statute.

    Texas makes it relatively difficult to get an award of alimony ordering the payment of support from one ex-spouse to the other after divorce. Even if a spouse meets the narrow qualification standards, the amount and duration is likely to be stringent.

    Another option for a Texas couple ending marriage is to negotiate a contract for alimony-like support payments. A private contract allows them to create their own arrangement that is not bound by the strict requirements of Texas law. If a private contract is not negotiated, the judge in the divorce will decide alimony issues.

    Any Texan contemplating divorce should speak with an experienced family law attorney about alimony, whether likely to be the obligee or the obligor , to understand the pros and cons of contractual alimony or whether court-ordered alimony is a possibility.

    In San Antonio, the attorneys at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., represent divorce clients in many issues.

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    Spousal Support In Texas: What You Should Know

    Spousal support, more commonly known as alimony, is paid by one former spouse to the other to help support their ex-partner financially. Spousal support is completely separate from child support and can be paid whether or not there are children involved in the divorce. While some people may think alimony is a relic from another time, it may still be paid depending on the circumstances of a divorce. There are many things couples should be aware of regarding spousal support in Texas, including the following:

    1. There Is a Presumption Against Spousal Support.

    In Texas, family courts presume spousal support will not be provided unless one of the parties involved in a divorce seeks financial support and can demonstrate that it is necessary. This means the courts will not award spousal support without it being requested and proved up. A party seeking spousal support must make their case to the court to show they require this type of financial assistance. That party, unless disabled or unless family violence is involved, will also have to show the court that they are trying to obtain consistent employment and that the spousal support will be temporary.

    2. What Qualifies a Former Spouse for Spousal Support?

    3. What Types of Spousal Support Exist?

    4. What Is the Maximum Amount of Spousal Support?

    5. How Long Does an Ex-Spouse Have to Pay Spousal Support?

    How Easy Is It To Qualify For Spousal Maintenance In Texas

    Its probably more difficult to qualify than you think. Spousal maintenance in Texas was designed to support the woman in her 70s who hasnt worked her whole life or a stay-at-home mom who aspires to do more and just needs her rent and car payment paid while she executes her plan to transition into the workforce.

    If youre seeking spousal maintenance in a Texas divorce, you have to prove to the court that you are unable to meet your minimum reasonable needs post divorce. The statute does NOT allow an award of maintenance sufficient to meet your current standard of living. Generally, those minimum reasonable needs include a roof over your head, a car, gas in your car and food on your table. It does not mean a private school for the kids, eating out at your favorite restaurants or taking annual summer vacations, Abby says.

    Its important to note that it really is an uphill battle to get spousal maintenance in Texas, and the state expects you to find a job eventually.

    According to Abby, Where people often make a mistake is admitting during a deposition Im not trying to find a job or saying I dont know when the judge asks what plans they have following the divorce. Those are not good answers. The court will not take pity on you, because they wont believe you cant meet your minimum reasonable needs.

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    How Spousal Maintenance Is Calculated

    The court takes these factors into consideration when determining the amount and duration of support:

    • The financial resources of both spouses
    • The employment skills of both spouses
    • The education of both spouses
    • Time and effort for the seeking spouse to obtain sufficient education or skills to be self-sufficient
    • The length of the marriage
    • Ages of the spouses
    • A spouses contribution as a homemaker
    • The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to provide for his or her needs
    • The financial conduct or misconduct of the spouses

    Is Spousal Support Mandatory In Texas

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    No, spousal support is not mandatory in Texas. In the case of a divorce where a spouse is seeking spousal support, the judge will ensure that the situation meets the requirements laid out in Texas law in order to qualify for spousal support. Whether or not spousal support will be awarded, is dependent on whether the spouse seeking support meets a strict set of guidelines.

    In Texas, spousal support legally referred to as spousal maintenance is a two-step process for determining if, when, and how long you might have to pay.

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    What Comes Next After The Divorce

    Although you have heard from friends and family that a divorce can sometimes last for months and months, you understand that the case will not go on forever. Once your divorce is over with you, have understandable concerns about how you will get back on your feet. Paying for a lawyer seems daunting enough, but how about paying a mortgage, private school tuition, and saving for your retirement. You had planned on living off of your spouses 401, but that dream died the second you realized that you would have to file for divorce sooner rather than later.

    Since youve been home raising a family, you have no employment history whatsoever to speak of. Volunteering at your church to fill in when the office secretary was out sick would keep you busy but is not exactly something that makes your resume shine. Your husbands income was more than enough to pay for the essentials and then some during your marriage. Now you are forced to think about what employment is available for a mother and home economist in 2020.

    Can you afford to get divorced? Can you afford to stay married? These are the sort of tough questions that I imagine many of you have had to come to terms within the weeks and months that saw your divorce approaching. Fortunately for you, there are solutions to the problems that you are concerned with. Whats more- there may not even be a problem you have to confront if you can negotiate well during the divorce.

    How Long Can You Expect To Pay Or Get Alimony In Texas

    Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is a hotly contested issue in many divorces. High-income spouses often resent the obligation to pay their ex for years after a divorce, while lower-earning spouses rely on alimony to meet basic needs. Alimony is not, however, meant to be forever. Texas law sets specific guidelines on how alimony should be calculated and how long it should last. Read on for a discussion of how courts determine alimony in Texas, and call a knowledgeable and effective Houston divorce and alimony attorney for help with a Texas family law matter.

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    How Courts Determine Amounts

    Once the court determines that alimony payments are necessary, theyll evaluate the alimony amount. The state law on alimony lays out several factors in determining the amount.

    The court will look at each spouses ability to provide for themselves and the other spouse. Both spouses may struggle to cover their basic needs. If thats the case, payments may be small.

    Theyll look at the education and employment histories of the spouses. A spouse may be able to return to work if they get some training. If thats the case, payments may be small too.

    The court will look at how each spouse treats property. They can look at any excessive purchases that the two parties have made. They can also adjust alimony depending on criminal convictions for property destruction or fraud.

    They can look at how much property each spouse brought to the marriage. The requesting spouse may be unable to make money, but they may have had some in the past.

    In addition to domestic violence, the court can examine marital misconduct. They can take adultery into account.

    Theres no formula that the court looks to. They approach alimony on a case-by-case basis as much as possible.

    One: Who Qualifies For Alimony In Texas

    How to Get Spousal Support (Alimony)

    A spouse requesting post-divorce support in Texas must be eligible to receive spousal maintenance before a court can grant the request. The court cannot award spousal maintenance to a non-eligible spouse on its own. However, parties are free to agree and contract for post-divorce support even when the court would not have the power to do so.

    In order to be eligible, the spouse seeking maintenance must lack sufficient property once the divorce is final to provide for her minimum reasonable needs.

    Additionally one of the following two scenarios must apply:

    1. The paying spouse must have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence as defined by Texas law. Additionally, the act of family violence must have been committed either:

    a.) During the marriage orb.) While the divorce suit was pending.

    2. The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs and:

    a.) Her inability is due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability orb.) Her inability is due to her responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability orc.) She has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or more.

    If your wife cannot meet the conditions set out in at least one of the above scenarios, the she is not eligible for court-ordered, post-divorce spousal maintenance.

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    You Cannot Get Alimony In The State Of Texas But You Can Request Spousal Support

    There are cases in which spousal support is awarded temporarily, especially if one spouse has limited or no income. It is at the courts discretion whether or not spousal support will be awarded and if awarded, may only last up to three years. If you want to receive spousal support, you are going to have to prove that you need it and that your spouse has the resources to pay.

    There are some criteria that have to be met in order to qualify for spousal support:

    -The marriage lasted for at least 10 years and you cannot provide basic needs for yourself because of disability, sickness or mental health.

    -The marriage lasted for at least 10 years and you dont have the means to meet basic needs because of a lack of earning potential.

    -Your spouse was convicted of committing violent acts against you or a member of your family within two years of filing for the divorce.

    If you are awarded spousal support, the court may not order maintenance that requires your spouse to pay monthly more than the lesser of $2,500 or 20% of your exs average monthly gross income. The only exception is if spousal support was awarded because of a disability or mental illness, which could entitle you to support indefinitely.

    Lets look at a hypothetical scenario that will give a better picture of asset distribution and spousal support:

    Housewife With No Kids At Home

    To learn more about spousal support, you can request our free book on Divorce in Texas.

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