What Kind of Alimony Is Allowed in Texas?
Texas law recognizes two types of spousal support in a divorce: contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. The first is based on an agreement between the parties while the second is subject to an order by the court.
Contractual alimony is just what it sounds like: it is an agreement between the divorcing spouses regarding how much support one party will provide the other and how long that support will last. Often payments under a negotiated alimony agreement cease if the receiving party gets remarried or cohabitates with someone, and the agreement terminates if one of the parties dies.
With contractual alimony, once the parties come to an agreement, it can be incorporated into a final decree of divorce as long as the judge determines that the agreement is just and right.
Spousal Maintenance in Texas
Courts in Texas do not automatically order spousal support. In fact, under Texas law, the court assumes that spousal support or maintenance is not necessary. It is up to the spouse seeking support to overcome this assumption.
Overcoming the Presumption that Spousal Maintenance is Not Needed
In order to overcome this presumption that spousal maintenance is not needed, the party seeking support must show that he or she has diligently tried to earn income to meet their basic needs or they have attempted to obtain the basic skills necessary to seek employment.
Demonstrating the Need for Support
There are several circumstances that can prompt a court to order spousal maintenance. In general terms, these include instances where:
- The spouse seeking support and/or the child of the marriage have been the victims of domestic violence perpetrated by the spouse from whom they are seeking support,
- The spouses were married for ten years or longer, and the spouse seeking support is unable to pay for their own expenses,
- The spouse seeking support has a physical or mental disability rendering them unable to earn enough income to provide for their own basic needs, or
- The spouse seeking support has custody of the couple’s physically or mentally disabled child and caring for the child prevents them from earning an adequate living.
Factors the Court Will Consider when Ordering Spousal Maintenance
If the court determines that an order for maintenance is appropriate, the judge will determine how much support to award and for how long by looking at a variety of factors. These include each party’s financial resources, their employment skills and education, the length of the marriage, the age and health of the recipient spouse, as well as other factors such as whether there is a history of family violence or adultery.
Statutory Limits on Spousal Maintenance
Under Texas law, a court-ordered monthly spousal support payment cannot be more than $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s average gross monthly income, whichever is less. While support can last up to ten years under certain circumstances, the court will always limit it to the shortest time it will take for the receiving party to become self-supporting.
How a Dallas Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Whether to pursue contractual alimony, court-ordered spousal support, or some other type of financial settlement depends on a myriad of factors unique to you and your situation. An experienced Dallas divorce lawyer will help you decide the best course of action and then aggressively pursue the outcome you desire.
Contact the office of Attorney Michael P. Granata online or call 214-977-9050 today to schedule a consultation.