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What Is Alimony In Texas

Factors That Determine Spousal Maintenance Amounts

Alimony in Texas | Houston Divorce Lawyer @thepalmerlawfirm

If the court determines that a spouse is eligible for maintenance, its up to the court to decide the duration, amount, and manner of payments .

The Texas Family Code also sets forth the factors that a court will consider when awarding maintenance, including:

  • each spouses ability to provide for that spouses minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouses financial resources based on the dissolution of the marriage
  • the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn adequate income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training
  • the duration of the marriage
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • the effect on each spouses ability to provide for that spouses minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable
  • acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common
  • the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • the property brought to the marriage by either spouse
  • the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
  • any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004

Id Rather Receive A Lump Sum At The Close Of My Divorce How Does That Work

According to Abby, One of the big downsides of alimony is it keeps you in a financial relationship with your ex-spouse. So if you really want to cut ties, opting for a lump sum payment may be a good option. Many people like to have a lump sum of money to invest and manage as they see fit. Ask your family law attorney to help you weigh your options.


How Much Alimony Will I Get In Tx

Courts in Texas do not often award spousal maintenance and in most cases, couples usually agree on alimony as part of the divorce settlement without the involvement of courts. But to receive alimony, the party that is seeking alimony must demonstrate that at least one of the following situations applies:

  • The marriage lasted for at least ten years and the party seeking alimony does not have any means of supporting themselves or cannot earn enough to meet their basic needs
  • The child of both parties has a disability and the party seeking spousal support is the one that cares for the child and this prevents the requesting spouse from earning sufficient income
  • The paying spouse was arrested and convicted of domestic violence two years before filing for divorce
  • The spouse seeking alimony has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from earning sufficient income to support themselves

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Three Forms Of Alimony

In Texas, alimony comes in three types:

  • Temporary Spousal Support. This is a court ordered amount of financial support one spouse must pay to the other before entering a final divorce decree.
  • Contract. Contractual alimony allows each spouse to agree to financial support payments as part of the divorce decree. This allows for more flexibility, as the paying partys payments are tax deductible. In addition, provisions can be included that the higher-earning spouse will pay for the childrens school tuition or mortgage payment.
  • Spousal Maintenance. This is similar to contractual alimony in that one spouse receives periodic payments from the former spouse. The difference, however, is that this form of alimony is court ordered.
  • Top 10 Things To Know About Texas Alimony Payments

    Modifying or Terminating a Texas Alimony or Spousal Support Order

    Spousal Maintenance is a court-ordered payment to your former spouse following a divorce. Factors such as the length of your marriage and the difference in earnings between former spouses all contribute to the amount of spousal maintenance a Judge may award. Texas, unlike other states, is distinctive as the law limits the amount of spousal maintenance that can be awarded to a spouse. This article outlines 10 things you should know about Spousal Maintenance and Spousal Support in Texas.

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    Contact An Alimony Lawyer In Texas To Discuss Your Legal Options

    If you have questions about paying or receiving spousal maintenance in a Houston divorce, our office may be able to help.

    If you still have questions about alimony in Texas, please call our office or contact us online at The Stout Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your options regarding spousal maintenance today. Alimony in Texas can become a tricky process. Let our experienced lawyers help.

    Enforcement Of Contractual Alimony

    Contractual alimony in Texas, however, court-ordered. Rather, it is a contract. While courts can enforce contracts through damages or specific performance, the scope of the courts power is more limited. The court legally cannot hold the payor spouse in contempt, so if they default, then the receiving spouse may be less likely to successfully enforce the payment.

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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 .

    Spousal Maintenance For 10 Years

    Alimony & Spousal Support in Texas
    • 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 .

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    Are You Getting Divorced In Texas

    Navigating the divorce process in Texas can feel like walking through a minefield. Not only are you dealing with the emotional and financial fallout of your marriage ending, but also the legal process itself is far from a walk in the park. When you and your spouse had widely different incomes, trying to figure out how youre going to meet your basic needs after the divorce can be incredibly stressful.

    The reality is that receiving court-ordered alimony in a divorce in Texas isnt particularly easy. The court begins with the presumption that spousal maintenance isnt necessary. If you havent been married for longer than ten years and dont fit within specific requirements, you wont be able to receive court-ordered spousal support.

    That being said, contractual alimony agreements can allow you and your spouse to work out an agreement that is suitable for both of you. Of course, depending on how amicable the divorce is, it might be more or less difficult to get your spouse to agree to spousal support.

    If you are the higher earner in your marriage, you might be glad to hear that Texas isnt a particularly alimony-friendly state when it comes to creating court orders. That being said, you might feel that it is appropriate to offer short-term alimony or another suitable arrangement in order to ensure that your spouse isnt left without any means to support him or herself after the divorce.

    Whats The Difference Between Alimony Maintenance And Spousal Support

    Alimony is the payment of money by one spouse to the other after separation or divorce. Its purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse cover expenses and maintain the same standard of living after divorce.

    Alimony is often considered the more legal term for payments made to an ex-spouse following a divorce. These payments may also be called maintenance payments, spousal support, or support payments.

    So, from one perspective, there is no real difference between alimony, maintenance, and spousal support. While from a mortgage lending perspective, this isnt always the case.

    For example, John earns a monthly gross salary of $8,000 and pays spousal support each month of $2,000. When obtaining mortgage financing, the monthly obligation of $2,000 is usually considered a liability and has a hard hit on Johns monthly income. However, the majority of agencies may allow the $2,000 in monthly support to be reduced from the monthly gross income.

    Why does this matter? It has a direct impact on Johns debt to income ratios which have certain limits for mortgage financing approval. If the $2,000 is considered a monthly obligation, Johns debt to income is already at 25% before taking into consideration any additional consumer debt and housing payment. Whereas if the monthly support is deducted from Johns gross income making his adjusted gross income $6,000 John is starting with a lower monthly income however, he is also starting with a clean slate from a DTI perspective.

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    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:

    Eligibility Under The Texas Court System

    How Long Will Alimony or Spousal Maintenance Last After My Texas ...

    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
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    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:

  • 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

    How Long Does An Order To Pay Alimony Last

    An order to pay spousal maintenance in Texas usually has a defined end point. The maximum duration of an order depends on how long the parties were married, and whether eligibility for alimony is based on financial need or domestic violence. As a general rule, courts are supposed to order alimony for the shortest reasonable period needed for the obligee to gain the ability to support themselves.

    A court can order spousal maintenance for an indefinite period of time if the obligee has an incapacitating physical or mental disability, or if they care for a child with a physical or mental disability, as mentioned above. The duration of alimony in these types of situations is for as long as the spouse continues to meet the eligibility criteria.

    In all other cases, a court cannot order alimony for longer than:

    • Five years, if the obligor was convicted of domestic violence and the parties were married for less than ten years
    • Five years, if the parties were married for ten to twenty years
    • Seven years, if they were married for twenty to thirty years and
    • Ten years, if they were married for thirty years or longer.

    An obligation to pay alimony automatically terminates, regardless of the above time limits, if either party dies, or if the obligee remarries. A court must order the termination of an alimony obligation if it finds that the obligee is permanently cohabitating with a romantic partner.

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    Difference Between Contractual Alimony In Texas Vs Court

    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.

    How Can I Avoid Paying Alimony

    What is Spousal Support in Texas?

    Alimony isnt part of every divorce. If you and your spouse earn about the same amount, its highly unlikely a judge will require one of you to financially support the other.

    Creating a prenuptial agreement with your spouse can also help you avoid having to pay alimony, but that doesnt help you if youre already separating.

    Another option is to have a judge examine your former spouses earning potential. If your ex can work full-time and increase their income but simply prefers to work part-time , a judge might side with you and determine your spouse has the ability to support themselves. Just be careful that doing so doesnt increase your child support payments, as it may mean your kids have to be in day care more hours per week.

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    How Hard Is It To Get Alimony In Texas

    Texas is one of the hardest states to win court-ordered spousal maintenance. It is possible to win these cases in court. The court begins with the presumption that neither party should receive alimony, meaning that the need for spousal support needs to be proven. On top of that, there are very stringent qualifications that must be met to even be eligible for consideration. Even if you meet those criteria, receiving spousal support isnt guaranteed.

    However, a private contract created as a part of a divorce settlement is a much more straightforward path to take if possible.

    Alimony & Spousal Support In Texas

    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?

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    How Is The Amount Of Alimony Determined

    The Texas Family Code does not provide guideline amounts for spousal maintenance like it does with child support, but it does establish a maximum amount that a court can order. The monthly amount of child support cannot exceed the lesser of $5,000 or twenty percent of the obligors average monthly gross income.

    For the purposes of calculating alimony payments, monthly gross income includes:

    • Wages or salary
    • Annuity payments, unemployment benefits, retirement benefits, and other cash income.

    Income withholding is available for payment of spousal maintenance, much like withholding for child support.

    Are You Eligible For Tx Alimony

    How To Avoid Alimony In Texas : Austin Spousal Support Lawyer

    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.

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