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How Much Alimony In Texas

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Alimony & Spousal Support in Texas

If you have questions about seeking or paying alimony in a Texas divorce, one of our experienced divorce attorneys can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Simer & Tetens to get started or for more information about the services we provide to clients in Waco and throughout Texas on family law matters.

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How Is Alimony Calculated In The State Of Texas

  • Blair Parker

Alimony, or spousal maintenance as it is called in the Texas Family Code, is a hotly-contested component of most divorce cases in Texas. For many entering this confusing and troubling time, how spousal maintenance is determined can weigh heavily on the mind. The financial burden or benefit can factor greatly into your quality of life after the marriage is dissolved.

To help understand the basics of this critical point of contention, I will elaborate on how alimony is calculated in Texas and what to prepare for as you proceed through a divorce.

It is important to remember that divorce is a complex process made harder by the mental and emotional toll it takes on those involved. It is critical to reach out to a family law expert to help navigate the unique legalities of your situation so that your rights are fully protected, whether you will be receiving alimony or paying it.

As a family law professional, I will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the alimony settlement you deserve.

A Guide To Texas Divorce Laws

A series of laws govern marriage and divorce in Texas and if you are facing the possibility of divorce, it is important that you have a basic understanding of what these laws are and how they will impact you.

The most important thing to know is that Texas is a community property state. This means all property acquired during a marriage is owned equally by both spouses, with a few exceptions.

Texas is also a no-fault state, meaning that no specific reason needs to be stated for why the marriage is ending, only that it is irretrievably broken with no hope of being fixed. However, spouses may choose one of seven reasons as grounds for divorce if they want to state a fault instead.

Both spouses do not need to agree to end the marriage. One spouse can initiate the action, and the other spouse or partner cant stop the process even if they want to remain married.

These laws will guide important decisions regarding the division of assets, child custody, child support and alimony and other key elements of a divorce.

Here are some of the most common legal questions and major issues you should know about that come up during a divorce in Texas:

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Who Determines Alimony & Child Support Amounts In Texas

Alimony – also known as spousal support – is concerned with maintaining the recipientâs standard of living. There are no conditions on how itâs spent. Child support aims to meet the childâs needs in terms of food, accommodation, healthcare, education, and so on. This support payment must be spent exclusively on the childâs welfare and upbringing.

Thereâs nothing to stop you and your partner from coming to a mutual agreement on alimony and child support outside of the courts. Indeed there are many advantages of doing so: it tends to be quicker, cheaper, and less confrontational, plus you and your partner maintain control over the final decision. If you choose to go down this route, you should get any settlement checked out by a lawyer. This way, you can rest assured that the agreement is legal and youâre getting a fair deal.

When a couple cannot reach an agreement on the terms of a divorce, the case proceeds to court. The judge will adequately consider all the evidence in front of them and listen to both sides before deciding. While the courts do have some leeway, they must also follow Texas state law. Legally, there are significant constraints and limits on both forms of payment, especially with alimony.

Difference Between Contractual Alimony In Texas Vs Court

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In many marriages, one spouse earns a higher income than the other, while the other may work part-time, handle household duties, and care for children. After a divorce, the lower-earning spouse may not be in a strong enough financial position to get the education or career necessary to start earning enough to cover their expenses. This is the basic reasoning behind why Texas courts will award spousal maintenance or parties agree to contractual alimony in a divorce. In addition to dividing the spouses community property, the court may also require one spouse to make payments to the other to allow them to keep up their standard of living during and after the divorce. These are the important differences between contractual alimony vs. court-ordered spousal maintenance.

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What Are The Qualifications For Alimony In Texas

Laws regarding the qualifications for alimony are different in each state, but Texas allows for spousal support or alimony payments in two primary situations: negotiated payments and court-ordered alimony. In order to have a negotiated payment, both spouses must agree to a set amount of alimony during the mediation or negotiation process.

These payments are usually given in exchange for a more valuable item that the other spouse needs or strongly desires, which outweighs the other spouses interest. Therefore, negotiated alimony payments can financially offset the value of that item.

Court-ordered alimony payments are achieved by a judge in the court system, but they will only be granted under certain circumstances. For example, a couple must be married for at least ten years, and the court must consider the situation to be reasonable.

Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, could be ordered due to difficulty finding gainful employment because a spouse is in school or has a disability. Most alimony requires the marriage to last a minimum of ten years, but time frames could be shorter in cases involving domestic violence or abuse.

In any case, payments will only be ordered on a temporary basis. The amount of alimony issued to a spouse cannot exceed 20% of the other spouses gross monthly income .

Division Of Assets In Texas

As a community property state, the courts will divide marital assets in way that is considered just and right taking into consideration the rights of each spouse and any children in the marriage.

Community property is any property that is acquired during a marriage. Separate property is that which is acquired either before or after a marriage, with some notable exceptions. Property during a marriage that was acquired through an inheritance, as a gift or as a personal injury settlement for one spouse may also be considered separate property as well.

Things can become a bit muddled when separate assets are commingled with community property assets. For example, inherited money that is deposited in a joint account may actually become community property. A gift that is used by both spouses may also run the risk of becoming community property as well.

Things are not always split 50-50 right down the middle. This is where many disagreements can and do take place. Oftentimes, lawyers must be retained to negotiate a reasonable settlement among the parties.

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What About Spousal Maintenance How Long Can You Receive Spousal Maintenance After A Texas Divorce

A family court judge will determine how long you can expect to receive special maintenance following your Texas divorce. The family judge will have a great deal of discretion when determining the length of time that you were able to receive spousal maintenance. Bear in mind, however, that there are limits to their authority when it comes to awarding spousal maintenance. Seven years is the length of time you could receive spousal maintenance if you were married between 20 and 30 years. Next, you can receive up to 10 years of special maintenance if married for 30 years or more. Finally, for those people married between 10 and 20 years before the divorce you can receive five years of spousal maintenance.

This should give you some perspective as to how you can start to plan for your divorce right now. there is no sense in assuming that you will have no chance of receiving spousal maintenance in a divorce. There is also no sense in assuming that you will be able to receive an unlimited amount of spousal maintenance in your divorce. Now you know the basics of duration, amount, and circumstances surrounding special maintenance. What you do with that information it’s completely up to you. I would recommend that you consider what special maintenance does if anything to change the way you think about divorce. If you have been hesitant to get a divorce because of concerns over supporting yourself after a divorce then hopefully this information can provide you with some peace of mind.

How Much Alimony Will I Get In Texas

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If you are someone who has remained in a bad or failing marriage due to concerns over your finances after the divorce, then I want you to pay close attention to today’s blog post. One of the many concerns that are reasonable for you to have at this time of your life relates to post-divorce finances and how you are going to make ends meet during this time. You may have been told horror stories regarding Texas family courts and their unwillingness to award spousal maintenance in a divorce case. Are you going to be left out in the cold, literally and figuratively, after your divorce case?

This is one of the more frustrating aspects have divorce cases. When you are just starting to learn about divorce then you are in a position where the perspective and information provided by someone who has been through a divorce can seem to be extremely attractive. However, the information that you hear from other people needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For one, divorce is such a fact-specific situation that it is almost impossible to try to take another person’s circumstances and directly apply them to your situation. Every family is different, and every divorce is different, too.

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Are You Eligible For Tx Alimony

In 2011, the Texas Legislature made substantial revisions to alimony eligibility.

To qualify, a person claiming spousal support must establish through evidence that:

  • The person actually a spouse or at least claiming to be a spouse such as under a common law or informal marriage. Living together or cohabitating does not qualify a person to receive spousal support in Texas.
  • The person does not have sufficient property to provide for the persons minimum reasonable needs.
  • The person meets one of the four following criteria: married for at least ten years and unable to earn a sufficient income, experienced family violence, the spouse is disabled, or the child is disabled.
  • In deciding whether a person has sufficient property, the court can consider a variety of property types including the persons income, which includes salary, bonuses, child support, and other money received.

    The court can also consider the income earned from property such as a rental property owned by the person.

    Also included in the courts analysis would be any separate property and the value of the share of community property received by the person in the property division in the divorce decree.

    This standard is not specifically defined by the Texas Family Code and is rather left to the family court to determine what a persons minimum reasonable needs are.

    The ten-year requirement is calculated from the date of marriage until the date of trial, rather than the date the divorce petition was filed.

    Is Alimony Automatically Awarded In Texas

    In the State of Texas, alimony is referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” Spousal support aims to help the supported spouse meet their basic needs, and it is generally awarded in situations where the supported spouse will have trouble doing so post-divorce. Alimony is not automatic in Texas and instead is decided on a case-by-case basis. There are four conditions under which spousal support may be awarded.

    First, when the supporting spouse has been convicted of domestic violence or abuse against the requesting spouse or their children within the two years before the divorce filing or during the divorce. Second, when the couple has been married for ten years, and when the requesting spouse is disabled, cares for a disabled child, or lacks sufficient property or income to meet their basic, reasonable needs. Third, when both parties agree to a spousal support plan. And fourth, when the requesting spouse is a sponsored immigrant and chooses to enforce the Affidavit of Support executed by their spouse.

    When determining earning capacity and how it affects alimony, the courts will consider many factors, including:

    • The property awarded to each party after their divorce
    • The education level of each party
    • The employment skills of each party
    • Whether the requesting spouse requires additional training or education and how long that will take
    • Whether additional training or education is available or feasible for the requesting spouse


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    How Much Is Alimony In Texas

    There are limits to how much alimony can be awarded through the courts, but not for contractual alimony agreements.

    The amount of alimony an individual receives after divorce will depend on a number of factors.

    First of all, spousal maintenance ordered by a court is bound by a number of limits. Under Texas law, spousal maintenance payments can be no more than 20% of the supporting spouses average monthly income or $5,000, whichever is lower.

    As an example, lets say that you make $3,000 a month. This means that you cannot be ordered to pay more than $600 a month.

    When it comes to contractual alimony, these rules dont apply. Since this is a private contract between the parties involved, they can negotiate an arrangement that suits them.

    In some instances, one spouse might negotiate for life insurance benefits or additional other protections in case the supporting spouse were to unexpectedly pass away.

    When divorcing spouses agree to a contractual alimony arrangement, the obligation can be included in the Final Decree of Divorce.

    How Is Alimony Calculated In Texas

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    The court divides the spouses monthly gross income by five to determine the spousal maintenance amount. The result is compared with $5,000, and the lesser of both is fixed as the maintenance amount to be paid. The monthly gross income is calculated by adding all wages and compensation of personal services such as tips, overtime pay, commissions, and bonuses received in a year. The following are then added to the sum:

  • Self-employment income
  • Dividends, interests, and royalty
  • Rental income after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments
  • Other incomes received such as pensions, retirement benefits, severance pay, trust income, gifts, prizes, maintenance, trust income, annuities, unemployment benefits, and capital gains
  • The final figure is divided by 12 to get the monthly gross income. The following are not included in the calculation of the gross monthly income for spousal maintenance:

    • Accounts receivable
    • Federal public assistance programs payments
    • Workers compensation benefits
    • Disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs

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    How Is Alimony Awarded In Texas

    Under the Texas Family Code, alimonyalso known as spousal maintenanceis only awarded in certain situations.

    Whether you are intending to seek alimony or are wondering if you will be ordered to pay alimony, it is important to know that there are only a handful of ways in which a spouse can be eligible for maintenance in Texas.

    Here are the eligibility requirements for alimony:

    • Family violence: Spouse who would be required to pay alimony was convicted of or received a deferred adjudication for a family violence crime, and that crime was committed during the marriage either against the spouse or the spouses child, and it occurred within the two years prior to the divorce filing or
    • Long-term marriage and financial hardship: Spouse seeking alimony has been married to the spouse who would be required to pay alimony for at least 10 years and lacks the ability to earn enough income to cover minimum reasonable needs
    • Disability: Spouse seeking alimony cannot earn a sufficient income to provide for his or her reasonable needs due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability or
    • Custodian of child with disability: Spouse seeking alimony is the custodian of a child from the marriage who needs substantial care and personal supervision due to a physical or mental disability, and caring for that child prevents the spouse from earning a sufficient income to cover his or her minimum reasonable needs.

    Experienced Spousal Support Lawyers In Houston

    Spousal maintenance is the technical term used for alimony or spousal support in Texas.

    Texas law is designed for alimony to be short-term, with the length of the marriage playing a large role in the spouses qualifying for support.

    Alimony in Texas has expanded in scope over the past several years in terms of who qualifies to receive it and for how much time.

    As this is an evolving area of Texas law, hiring a Houston alimony lawyer can be a wise decision.

    The categories of individuals who potentially fall under the umbrella of alimony in Texas include spouses who stay at home, spouses married for more than 10 years, those who have obligations to care for disabled children, spouses with disabilities, and victims of family violence.

    If you want legal assistance in dealing with your spouse and alimony, you need effective representation from experienced litigators.

    Contact the qualified Houston alimony lawyers at The Larson Office today for your complimentary case review by calling or filling out our short form.


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