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Alimony guidelines protect spouses who have few resources

Spousal support laws are changing rapidly throughout the country, although in some states, those supporting a former spouse may think the laws do not change fast enough. Nevertheless, Texas courts strive to determine fair amounts of alimony if such support is needed. Following the guidelines provided in the state's Family Code, couples may be able to predict how alimony will pertain to their circumstances.

A spouse may petition the court for post-divorce support by demonstrating that he or she is unable to afford the minimum standards for a reasonable lifestyle. This may be the result of a disability or because the spouse is responsible for the care of a disabled child born of the marriage. The court may also award alimony to a spouse who has been married longer than 10 years or who was a victim of abuse within two years of filing for divorce.

The general guidelines for alimony allow payments of up to $5,000 a month or 20 percent of the paying spouse's gross monthly wages, whichever is the lesser amount. Unlike some states where alimony may last indefinitely, in most cases in Texas, the length of time a spouse is required to pay depends on the length of the marriage. For example, if the couple was married 10 years or less, alimony may last less than five years, but a 30-year marriage may require alimony up to 10 years.

Of course, in Texas, if one spouse earns significantly less money than the other, the spouse with the higher wages may be ordered to financially support the other temporarily while the divorce is in progress. This is to ensure that the lower earning spouse is able to meet his or her expenses until a settlement is complete. To address the need for spousal support or alimony, divorcing couples are encouraged to obtain separate legal counsel to ensure their individual rights are protected.

Source: statelaws.findlaw.com, "Texas Alimony Laws", Accessed on April 26, 2017

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