How Does Alimony in Texas Divorce Work?
Alimony in Texas Divorce does not exist exactly. But there is spousal maintenance. Texas has strict rules for how to meet the eligibility rules for court ordered spousal maintenance. The spouse must, under the law, prove that following the divorce there will not be enough property to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs, generally held as their monthly expenses. Next, the soon to be divorced must also demonstrate the following:
- the marriage lasted for ten years or longer and the spouse made diligent efforts to either earn sufficient income or to develop necessary skills while the divorce is pending to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs; or
- the other spouse has committed family violence; or
- the requesting spouse has an incapacitating disability; or
- a child of the marriage (of any age) has a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse who cares for and supervises the child from earning sufficient income.
It is a common assumption in Texas that a spouse has a better chance at getting spousal maintenance if he or she is unemployed so the divorcing spouse quits working, or does not look for work. However, unless there is family violence, or the spouse asking for alimony cannot work because of his or her own disability, or due to their care of a child of the marriage with a disability, the spouse of ten years or more must be able to show he or she tried hard to earn income or sought gainful employment or indeed took steps to prepare for looking for gainful employment, before even being considered.
If a judge finds a spouse eligible for court ordered spousal maintenance, the judge has to decide how much to order and the duration of that order. Calculating the amount is not a simple math equation. The judge, by law, must consider everyone’s financial resources after the marriage, how child support will affect the ability to provide maintenance, contributions to the spouse’s education and training, age, employment history, marital misconduct, and family violence. This is not an exhaustive list of considerations, there are other factors the court will consider, but this is a good starting point.
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