How Is Alimony Calculated In Texas
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:
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
When Do Texas Courts Order Spousal Maintenance
Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not automatically awarded in every divorce case. Spousal maintenance can be awarded upon request and only if the spouse who requests alimony is eligible to receive alimony.
Whether or not alimony will be awarded is decided by the judge on a case-by-case basis. Since each divorce case is unique, there is no guarantee that you or your spouse will be awarded alimony in your specific situation.
Broadly speaking, there are four situations that might warrant an award of spousal support in Texas:
The spouse who would be ordered to pay alimony has received deferred adjudication or has been convicted of family violence against the spouse seeking spousal maintenance or their child. The conviction or deferred adjudication must occur within two years of the date of filing a petition for divorce or during the divorce proceedings.
The spouses have been married for ten or more years, while the spouse requesting alimony does not have sufficient financial resources, property, and income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
The spouses have been married for ten or more years, while the spouse seeking alimony is either disabled or a primary caretaker of a disabled child.
The parties have voluntarily reached a fair and reasonable agreement on spousal maintenance.
If you are not sure whether or not spousal maintenance could be available in your specific case, speak with a knowledgeable family lawyer to discuss your particular situation.
Factors For Determining Alimony In Texas
Every maintenance case in Texas starts with the assumption that spousal maintenance is not appropriate. The court will proceed with a maintenance evaluation if the asking spouses can show they made a good faith effort to generate an income or obtain the education or training required to become financially independent during the separation and divorce process .
To determine the kind, quantity, duration, and payment mode of support, the court will consider the following factors:
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Contact A Waco Divorce Lawyer
Alimony concerns are serious financial concerns. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Waco, Texas, is a dedicated divorce attorney who takes all of your divorce concerns seriously. He is committed to skillfully obtaining alimony terms that support your financial future and work for you.
We are here to help, so please do not wait to contact us online or for more information today.
How To Calculate Alimony In Texas
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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Have Questions About Alimony In Texas 11 Things You Need To Know
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.
What Factors Impact Court
The professional dynamic that exists between a couple is always different, and those differences can even be greater when the responsibilities of child-raising are involved. Consider this scenario.
The spouses married shortly after college. One was in business, the other an architect. Both were poised for successful careers in fields where they would be well-compensated. They also wanted a family, and it was determined that the architect would scale back their work and spend more time at home after kids started coming. It was also determined that the spouse in business would go for the MBA.
Over the next 15 years, they had three children. The spouse working full-time did indeed get their MBA and turned it into a lucrative job. The other spouse continued to do freelance architectural design. It was fulfilling, but a sidebar to what their main job had becomemaking sure the kids got to school, did their homework, and made it to all their extracurricular activities.
In a divorce settlement, the spouse who mostly was at home will have two strong arguments on their behalf for maintenance.
First off, Texas courts will see the couple as a single entity, with the tasks of earning income and raising children all lumped together. The person who did the latter should not be penalized for taking on that role. A family court will seek to make this spouse financially whole, to the greatest degree possible.
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Spousal Maintenance And Taxes
Beginning January 1, 2019, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, spousal support or separate maintenance payments are not deductible from the income of the payer spouse or includable in the income of the receiving spouse if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed after December 31, 2018.
You cant deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments made under a divorce or separation agreement executed before 2019 but later modified if the modification expressly states the repeal of the deduction for alimony payments applies to the modification. Alimony and separate maintenance payments under such an agreement are not included in your gross income.
According to the IRS, a payment is alimony or separate maintenance if all the following requirements are met:
- The spouses dont file a joint return with each other
- The payment is in cash
- The payment is to or for a spouse or a former spouse made under a divorce or separation instrument
- The spouses arent members of the same household when the payment is made
- Theres no liability to make the payment after the death of the recipient spouse
- The payment isnt treated as child support or a property settlement.
If you paid amounts that are considered taxable alimony or separate maintenance, you may deduct from income the amount of alimony or separate maintenance you paid whether or not you itemize your deductions.
How Does The Court Decide If A Spouse Lacks Earning Ability To Provide For His Or Her Minimum Reasonable Needs
The Court will consider all the relevant factors, such as:
- Financial resources available to each party once their property is divided by the court,
- The education and employment skills of the spouses,
- The time necessary to obtain sufficient education or training to enable the spouse to earn sufficient income, and
- The availability and feasibility of such training.
The Court will also look at factors such as the duration of the marriage, the spouses health and age, and how the spouses treated each other. The Court will make a decision on spousal maintenance based on the above factors and anything else that might be important.
The spouse seeking spousal maintenance will also have to demonstrate that he or she has diligently searched for employment, training, and educational opportunities. The due diligence requirement does not apply in cases where the Affidavit of Support is being enforced.
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Texas Is Arguably The Hardest State In Which To Get Alimony In Divorce
While eligibility for spousal support is narrow and duration and amount restricted, marital misconduct may be taken into account in setting the award.
Spousal maintenance, traditionally called alimony, is the payment of monetary support from one ex-spouse to the other, and in Texas, as compared with most other states, the law severely restricts who is eligible for spousal maintenance after divorce.
Although court-ordered alimony is difficult to get in Texas, the parties to a divorce may negotiate a contract for the payment of alimony that contains terms more generous than a judge could order under the law. Because of the narrow grounds for spousal maintenance in the divorce law, negotiation of alimony as a contractual obligation can become an important consideration between divorcing spouses in Texas.
However, if the issue ends up before a court in a divorce proceeding, the court does not have nearly as much discretion as courts in many other states do to craft alimony awards. To be eligible to receive spousal maintenance in Texas, the spouse seeking maintenance must show that he or she will not have sufficient property after divorce to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. If he or she will have sufficient property to pay or his or her minimum reasonable needs, he or she is not eligible for spousal maintenance.
If minimum reasonable needs cannot be met independently by the spouse seeking maintenance, one of these must also be true:
What If I Have A Prenup
In Texas, couples are allowed to create a binding agreement in regards to alimony in their prenuptial agreement. Prenups are a contract that soon-to-be spouses sign in contemplation of marriage. These contracts usually control how property will be divided in the case of divorce.
Prenups in Texas can include agreements between prospective spouses to:
- Create a set level of support
- Cost of living adjustments for alimony
- Any other matter that impacts alimony
Texas courts will enforce prenups so long as the contract is in writing, doesnt have to be supported by consideration, and was created in contemplation of marriage. In order to be enforceable, these contracts also must have been signed voluntarily by both spouses and they must not be unconscionable, meaning its egregiously unfair.
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Spousal Support In Texas: Calculating The Amount
The maximum amount of spousal maintenance that a court may order is 20% of the paying spouses average monthly gross income, or $5,000.00 per month, whichever is less. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.055. The Texas Family Code defines in great detail what is and what is not included in gross income for purposes of calculating spousal maintenance. Tex. Fam. Code § 8.055 .
It is important to remember that is the maximum amount allowed and not a required amount spouses are free to agree on an amount that differs from this calculation.
What Is Spousal Maintenance In Texas
When a married couple files for divorce, one of the spouses may request alimony, which is commonly referred to as spousal maintenance. Alimony is designed to provide the lower-earning spouse with sufficient monetary support to allow them to enjoy a similar standard of living established during the marriage.
In most cases, the payor must pay alimony in the form of monthly payments for a specific number of years. A financially disadvantaged spouse can receive spousal support during the divorce proceedings and after the divorce is final.
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A Material And Substantial Change In Circumstances
Payors may also petition the court to modify spousal support if they can prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the original order.
The following changes in circumstances may warrant a modification of alimony if they are material and substantial:
A decrease in income for the payor
An increase in income for the payee
An increase in expenses for the payor
The payors involuntary loss of a job as a result of being fired, laid off, or furloughed
A disabling injury or serious medical condition that affects the payors earning capacity
Texas courts review requests for a modification of spousal support based on a material and substantial change in circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
If the petitioner can prove that any of these circumstances have occurred since the court order was put in place, the court may grant a modification or termination of spousal support. In order to modify alimony in Texas, the party requesting a modification must file a motion in the court that issued the original alimony order.
The motion to modify alimony must be served upon the other party. The respondent will need to file an answer to the petition. After service, the parties can proceed to a hearing where each party will have a chance to present their arguments and evidence for or against the modification.
Can I Get Alimony In My Divorce
Under Texas law, alimony is also referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support. Spousal support is designed to provide temporary support for a spouse following divorce, rather than being a long-term proposition.
A spouses eligibility to receive spousal maintenance following the entry of a final divorce decree has been significantly expanded since it was created almost twenty years ago.
Spousal maintenance has grown from protecting only stay-at-home spouses who have been out of the workforce for many years to also including spouses who are responsible for disabled children, disabled spouses, and spouses who have experienced family violence.
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Alimony In Texas: Your Complete Guide
Alimony laws are a complicated set of rules, which can drastically vary from state to state. In particular, Texas has very clear guidelines about the circumstances surrounding any potential alimony payments you could receive due to your impending split.
For spouses who are considering petitioning the courts or working through the negotiation process for alimony, you will want to clearly understand the qualifications, amounts, and duration of payments you could reasonably expect to receive.
What are the basics you need to consider when requesting alimony payments in Texas? In this article, you will find out what the state laws allow.
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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Spousal Support And Taxes In Texas
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has a big influence on Texas divorce laws alimony. Paying spouses could deduct maintenance payments from their income before January 1, 2019, and supported spouses had to disclose and pay taxes on the income.
Alimony in Texas is no longer considered income for the recipient or a tax deduction for the paying spouse for any alimony agreements and/or court decisions finalised on or after January 1, 2019.
Do I Have To Pay Taxes On Alimony Or Spousal Maintenance In Texas
The paying party gets to deduct spousal support from their income taxes and the receiving party must pay taxes on those monies.
So generally, if the spouse making the higher income gets to deduct alimony at 39 percent, and the person receiving only has to pay taxes on 20 percent, we basically say Uncle Sam makes up the difference, explains Abby.
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How Do I Get Court Ordered Spousal Maintenance In Texas
Court ordered spousal maintenance is the kind a family judge can order a spouse to pay involuntarily. But just because the law provides for it does not mean it is easy to get, that it will be a large amount of money, or it will last forever. To the contrary, the eligibility requirements for court ordered spousal maintenance are high, the amount and duration are restricted, and it can be changed or eliminated later. There is no “palimony” in Texas, meaning a court cannot require someone to pay spousal support if there was no ceremonial or common law marriage.
An ideal in Texas is it is in everyones best interests for as many people in Texas as possible to be employed. The theory is court ordered spousal maintenance can be a financial bridge between divorce and self-sufficiency. This is why it is often referred to as “rehabiliative” support. However, there is a prevailing view as well that spousal support creates a disincentive for a divorcee to return to gainful employment. That is one of the reasons the Texas legislature makes it tough for a former spouse in Texas to get court ordered spousal maintenance. However, Texas also recognizes that people need some help after divorce if they have been out of the work force, lack education, became disabled during marriage, must care for a disabled child and cannot work, or have experienced family violence.
After proving that, the spouse must also prove at least one of the following:
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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