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How is alimony awarded in Texas?

Because it is not always easy to obtain, many Texas residents might wonder if spousal maintenance is available. The short answer is that spousal support, also commonly referred to as alimony, is available for residents who meet the statutory requirements. Below are the general requirements that must be met by the spouse seeking support.

Alimony is only awarded to spouses who have been married for a minimum of 10 years or who are victims -- or whose children are victims -- of family violence. People who fall into this category can receive maintenance for a maximum of five years if they meet additional requirements. If the marriage lasted between 20 and 29 years, support can last up to seven years. For couples who were married for 30 years or more, alimony can last up to 10 years.

For those who meet these minimum requirements, they must show that they do not have enough financial resources to meet their "minimum reasonable needs," which are not defined by the statute. Judges will review each case individually in order to define what that threshold is for a particular spouse. That individual's minimum monthly expenses will be reviewed to determine whether it is possible for him or her to support him or herself. The spouse who might be ordered to pay alimony can argue that it is not warranted if the other spouse did not make reasonable attempts to support his or herself during the separation and/or the divorce proceedings. If the court determines that alimony is warranted, the paying spouse will be ordered to pay the lesser of either 20 percent of his or her income or $5,000.

Other ways to qualify for alimony were not discussed in this short forum. If a Texas resident believes that he or she needs spousal maintenance in order to meet minimum living requirements after a divorce, it should be discussed with an attorney. A review of the circumstances, the length of the marriage and any other qualifying factors will be done and then the options can be discussed before moving forward. Of course, if the parties come to an agreement regarding this issue as part of a settlement agreement, it would then only need to be approved by the court.

Source: dallasbar.org, "Alimony in Texas: Myths and Changes", Jana Wickham Paul and Holly Eckert, Accessed on Oct. 22, 2016

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