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Is Texas An Alimony State

Spousal Maintenance For 10 Years

What are the Laws for Texas Alimony? | Austin Divorce Attorney Explains
  • The spouses were married for 30 years or more.

The law requires the Texas court to limit spousal maintenance to the shortest reasonable period that allows the seeking spouse to meet their minimum reasonable needs, so its important to remember that the above time frames are the maximum amount allowable under the law, and not a mandatory time frame in all situations. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.054 .

Understanding Spousal Support & Spousal Maintenance

You can reach your divorce settlement in one of two ways. The hope is that an agreement will be negotiated with your spouse, either directly or with the benefit of a third-party mediator. When that happens, the payments are termed spousal support.

If negotiation and mediation does not work, a Texas family law judge will have to settle the disputed issues. In this case, payments made to an ex-spouse are considered spousal maintenance.

Spouses are given wide latitude in what they might negotiate between themselves. For our purposes here though, well consider what factors a judge will look at in deciding on whether to award spousal maintenance and if so, for how much. The reason is that knowing what may or may not be done in court can put a spouse and their attorney in a better position to negotiate favorable terms privately.

Please note thatspousal maintenanceandchild supportarenotthe same thing. Parents are obligated to support their children. The financial terms of this obligation are set up separately. Spousal maintenance is directed, as the term indicates, to the spouse themselves.

Work With Blair Parker To Protect Your Rights

The question of finances is a major source of potential bitterness and resentment, both within an existing marriage and especially during a divorce. Both parties burden to ensure their own sustainability only adds to the mental and emotional weight of divorce. It is important to approach the law and your spouse with objectivity, honesty, patience, and respect throughout the divorce process.

As a Texas family law expert, I am dedicated to helping you understand the complexities of the divorce process and knowledgeably managing the nuances of your situation to put you in the best possible situation.

I work to ensure that you get every penny you deserve as an alimony recipient or that you pay the absolute fairest amount as the alimony payer. Contact me today to discuss your unique situation and learn how I will protect your rights.

to discuss your alimony situation. I help clients just like you in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County arrive at the best possible outcome.

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Who Qualifies For Court

In order to qualify for alimony that is ordered by the court a spouse has to fall within a number of fairly specific circumstances.

Divorcing couples are free to agree to a post-divorce alimony arrangement, however. They simply need to do so in a contract as a part of the settlement rather than through the court. Its worth noting that going this route will also likely be more expensive than drafting and signing your own private contract.

If seeking maintenance through the court is necessary, though, a spouse has to lack sufficient property once the divorce is final in order to meet his or her minimum needs.

On top of that, one of the three following circumstances must also be true:

  • The marriage lasted for at least ten years and the spouse asking for maintenance payments doesnt have enough income or property to provide for their reasonable needs and is either:
  • The primary caretaker of a disabled child
  • Lacking in the earning ability to provide for their reasonable basic needs
  • In the following instance, there is no minimum duration of the marriage to receive spousal maintenance. The spouse from whom maintenance is being sought has:
  • Received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense against the other spouse of their child within two years of filing or during the pending period of the divorce
  • Been convicted for a family violence offense against the other spouse of their child within two years of filing or during the pending period of the divorce
  • How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get Alimony In Texas

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    In most cases, you have to have been married for ten years to receive court-ordered spousal support in Texas. The only exception for this is if the supporting spouse was convicted of family violence.

    There are no restrictions on how long youve been married for contractual alimony. This is because this type of arrangement results from a voluntary agreement between the divorcing parties.

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    Alimony In Texas: How Much Is It

    If youre getting divorced, the topic of alimony might be on your mind. For example, maybe youve been in a one-income household in your marriage as one partner stayed home to raise the kids. What is the stay-at-home-spouse going to do financially after the marriage dissolves? Understanding Alimony in Texas is essential if youre expecting to pay or receive spousal support, as Texas law is actually pretty unique in this regard.

    When youre thinking about alimony, theres probably one question thats particularly on your mind: how much is it?

    The answer to that is: it depends. If you receive alimony that is ordered by the court, there are limits on how much alimony you receive each month and for how long. On top of that, there are strict qualifications you have to meet to even be able to receive alimony through a court order.

    On the other hand, how much alimony you receive through a contractual agreement isnt limited by the law. Lets dive into the world of Alimony in Texas to help you understand the most important aspects of spousal support in the Lone Star State.

    Is Texas An Alimony State

    The answer is definitively a yes, that Texas is an Alimony State. However, under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code, alimony is known as Spousal Maintenance.

    Alimony or Spousal Maintenance is often confused with Spousal Support, which is typically known as interim spousal support or temporary spousal support which is awarded during divorce proceedings and comes in the form of cash support or direct payments for ongoing liabilities of the parties, while the divorce is pending. Alimony or Spousal Maintenance, on the other hand, lasts longer-term and typically long after a divorce has been finalized.

    In 1995, Texas became the last state in the nation to enact a spousal maintenance statute, which allows court to impose on one ex-spouse the duty of providing support out of future income to the other ex-spouse. However, the current spousal maintenance statute is very restrictive and makes alimony or spousal maintenance difficult for a requesting spouse to obtain, requiring a party to prove eligibility for very specific criteria.

    The main purpose of the spousal maintenance statute was to provide spousal maintenance, as a temporary bridge of sorts to provide financial support for a divorced spouse whose ability to self-support is lacking or has deteriorated through the passage of time while that spouse was engaged in homemaking activities, and whose assets are not sufficient to meet reasonable minimum needs.

    How to qualify for alimony in Texas

  • All wages and salary
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    Who Is Able To Receive Contractual Alimony In Texas

    Unlike court-ordered spousal maintenance, there arent any conditions that must be met for someone to receive contractual alimony. This is because it is a voluntary agreement you are entering into rather than something that is ordered by the court.

    The purpose of contractual alimony is to act as the primary means of subsistence of the supported spouse if they are disabled or care of a disabled child or to supplement their income.

    Through contractual alimony agreements, couples can choose to create custom arrangements that suit their particular situation.

    For example, maybe you are going to sell the marital home and move into an apartment, but you want to reduce the burden of transition on your children. In this instance, you might create a contractual alimony agreement where payments are made to you for a short period of time to help cover the additional living expenses of briefly managing two properties. This type of agreement can help to maintain a semblance of stability in the lives of children after the divorce.

    Have Questions About Alimony In Texas 11 Things You Need To Know

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    How alimony is determined varies from state to state. If you and your spouse are calling it quits in Texas, alimony isnt a given. You also shouldnt expect a windfall, even if your spouse is a professional athlete, real estate mogul or oil baron. Dallas Divorce Attorney Abby Gregory answers 11 common questions about spousal support in Texas below.

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    How Long Will Spousal Maintenance Be Paid

  • If a spouse is awarded spousal maintenance because the other spouse has been convicted or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense within two years of the filing of the divorce or while the divorce was pending, OR the marriage lasted for at least 10 years but less than 20 years, the spousal maintenance award may not remain in effect for more than five years.
  • If the marriage lasted for at least 20 years but less than 30 years, the spousal maintenance award may not remain in effect for more than seven years.
  • If the marriage has lasted for 30 years or more, the spousal maintenance award may not remain in effect for more than 10 years.
  • However, the Court may order that spousal maintenance remain in effect for as long as the spouse is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs because of a disability or because he or she is a caretaker of a disabled child.

    What Is Spousal Maintenance

    Spousal maintenance is the term used in Texas to refer to court-ordered payments. As discussed above, awarding spousal maintenance in a divorce case occurs on a case-by-case basis.

    The court will consider any and all relevant factors if a spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance. This can include factors such as:

    • The employment skills and education of both spouses
    • The financial resources that each party will have once the divorce is final
    • How long it would take the supported spouse to receive the education or training they need in order to earn enough money to meet their basic needs
    • The availability as well as the feasibility of this type of training or education

    Additional factors that can come into play include the age and health of the spouses, how long the marriage lasted, and the way that the spouses treated each other in the marriage.

    In order to receive spousal maintenance, the spouse seeking support has to demonstrate that they have been searching for educational, training, and employment opportunities with diligence.

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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 Do You Pay Alimony In Texas

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    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.

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    Is Alimony Received In Monthly Payments

    The notion of paying alimony every month can be daunting, but there are other options if you and your spouse are willing to negotiate.

    Court-ordered spousal maintenance typically comes in the form of monthly payments.

    When you agree to a contractual alimony agreement, though, there are additional options. Of course, monthly payments are one of the choices on the table. Because this is a private contract between the two of you, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of how the agreement is laid out.

    Its important to understand that there might be tax consequences to awarding and accepting a lump sum alimony payment as a part of a divorce settlement. However, whether or not this award is subject to tax can have to do with whether it is referred to as a settlement or alimony in your settlement. If youre interested in a lump sum payment rather than monthly payments, talk to your divorce lawyer and a tax attorney.

    Its worth noting that the taxation of alimony recently changed, at least in the way you deal with it on federal tax returns. This is due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. While alimony once was seen as income that could be taxed and deducted depending on whether you received it or paid it, the tax implications are different for alimony for divorce agreements signed after January 1, 2019.

    There are other ways that one spouse can be compensated by the other through the settlement other than alimony, too. Some of these include:

    Modifying A Support Order

    The court can modify a spousal maintenance order if there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances since the first order.

    Even if a review has been requested, until the court formally changes the award, the paying spouse must continue to follow the requirements of the current court order.

    Orders can be modified if a paying spouse has considerable financial setbacks such as a job loss or experiences health issues impacting the ability to earn a sufficient income.

    Maintenance orders will end before the termination dates if:

    • either party dies
    • the supported spouse cohabitates with a third-party while in a dating or romantic relationship
    • both spouses agree to end the support order
    • upon a review or future order of the court

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    I Havent Had A Job Outside The Home For Many Years Does The State Of Texas Really Expect Me To Go Back To Work

    If you are capable of finding work to provide for your minimum reasonable needs, yes, you need to get a job or make preparations to reenter the workforce.

    As Abby explains, Just because you have been out of the workforce for 20 years, that doesnt mean you cant find a job as a receptionist or office manager or the like, especially if you have a college degree.

    However, you may be able to present a compelling argument to the court that youre starting your own business, taking night classes, enrolled in nursing school, finishing your law degree, etc., and need support for a set period of time to complete coursework and then find a job. You need to have a detailed plan and timeline.

    What Factors Does The Court Consider In Determining Spousal Maintenance

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    Section 8.052 of the Texas Family Code establishes a list of factors that court must look at to determine the extent, duration, and type of spousal maintenance. Here are the factors:

  • The ability of each spouse to provide for his or her own minimum reasonable needs and the financial resources of that spouse at the time of divorce,
  • The education level and employment-related skills of both spouses, including the time required for the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain enough education and training to earn sufficient income ,
  • The length of the marriage,
  • The age, job history, earning potential, and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance,
  • The difficulty for each spouse to pay for child support and pay for their own minimum reasonable needs,
  • The actions of either spouse that led to extreme spending, concealment, fraud, or other relevant property-related losses,
  • The contribution of one spouse to the other spouses education or training ,
  • Property either spouse contributed to the marriage,
  • Contribution of the spouse who is a homemaker,
  • Any misconduct related to the marriage, and
  • Any act or history of domestic violence
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