If you are divorcing in Texas, it's very important that you understand the state's alimony laws. Texas' laws are unique. Spouses who married in other states or who lived in other states for some time before moving to Texas may not be familiar with the laws.
Alimony is both an emotional issue and a financial consideration, whereby one spouse pays the other spouse a set amount every month after divorce, for the lower-earning spouse to maintain their lifestyle. It is independent of property division or child support payments.
There are two types of alimony in Texas
1. Court-ordered spousal maintenance
The court can determine whether alimony should be granted and in what amount. The restrictions on court-ordered alimony are strong, and the amount is typically small and only for a set period of time.
This kind of alimony is not easy to obtain. To receive it, the following must be shown:
- The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years
- The spouse seeking alimony must prove that the division of marital assets will not meet those needs
- The spouse seeking alimony must show that they are actively seeking work or improving their skills to obtain a job that will meet their minimum needs
If the spouse seeking alimony is caring for a disabled child of any age, or is him/herself disabled, or if the other spouse has committed any type of family violence that is verifiable, then there is a greater chance the court will award alimony. A spouse who simply hasn't worked or doesn't want to will find that they are generally ruled against when it comes to seeking alimony from a court order.
2. Contractual Spousal Maintenance
The second type of alimony in Texas is contractual, based on an agreement between the spouses. Because this is a private agreement reached out of court, there are no eligibility requirements. The spouses can agree to any particular amount, schedule and duration.
However, it is extremely important that divorcing spouses lay out the terms of their agreement in writing and include the contract as part of the divorce settlement.
Learn more from an experienced family law attorney
If you are going through a divorce and alimony is at issue, consider working with an experienced family law attorney. A legal advocate can help you determine what is fair, advise you your rights regarding alimony and ensure your divorce is handled correctly.