Unless you had been married a long time, you are not entitled to alimony in Texas. Child support is for the benefit of your children. A brief synopsis of Texas Alimony follows:
In Texas, alimony is also called spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance provides a spouse with periodic payments from the former spouse's future income that continues after the divorce.
The court may order (alimony is not a guarantee) spousal maintenance for a spouse if a spouse was convicted for family violence within two (2) years before the date the petition for divorce was filed or the marriage was ten (10) years duration. The spouse who is seeking spousal maintenance must show that he/she lacks sufficient resources to provide for his/her minimal reasonable needs. The spouse seeking future support must show that employment is difficult to maintain or gainful employment is not possible because of a physical or mental disability. Spousal maintenance may be ordered if a child has a disability that prevents the spouse from being employed outside the home. The courts may order spousal support if a spouse clearly lacks ability in the work place.
Factors that determine eligibility for a spouse to receive support are many, but the main factors the courts look to are (1) all the financial resources of the spouse seeking support; (2) education and employment skills, time necessary for education or vocational training; (3) duration of the marriage; (4) age, employment history, earning ability, as well as the emotional and physical well being of the spouse; and (5) the efforts of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to obtain suitable employment.
Spousal maintenance can be denied by the judge if the spouse seeking support has not exercised due diligence in seeking employment and developing the necessary skills to become independent and self-supporting. The spouse should actively pursue these requirements during the time the suit for divorce is pending.
Time limits of spousal maintenance are set out in the Family Code, unless the parties agree to a different time frame. The Family Code says that the support order is not effective after three (3) years, with the date the divorce decree was signed as the starting time. The courts limit the spousal support to the shortest possible time for the spouse to begin employment which will provide for his/her "minimal reasonable needs". Only a disability can continue the time frame indefinitely, and once the disability has been removed, then a motion to modify will likely occur from the ex-spouse.
The law has limited the amount of spousal maintenance: the support cannot exceed $2,500.00 per month or 20% of the ex-spouse's average monthly gross income. The amount set will be only enough to provide the spouse with the minimal reasonable needs. However, parties can agree to a larger sum.
Spousal maintenance will not be ordered between parties who are living together and who have never married. Spouses who do qualify for spousal maintenance are not among the majority. Each support order is decided on a case by case basis and not awarded straight across the board.
If your divorce has been finalized and the final order that the judge signed did not include payments for spousal support, then NO.
You can always try to modify a final decree to adjust child support so that it conforms to the Texas Family Code. But you cannot modify for spousal support (alimony).
If you let your husband drive this process and you did not have an attorney of your own, you probably have not secured all the rights you could have under Texas law.
HOWEVER: If the divorce has not yet been finalized, you need to hire an attorney Monday morning. If your husband has any money, the court can order your husband to pay your attorney. You just can't do this without an attorney--you will get an awful outcome if you represent yourself or if you "share" an attorney.
You did not give enough information to answer your question. The other attorneys that answered attempted to answer your question too.
Child support and alimony (aka spousal support) are totally different.
The Texas Family Code is available on-line for free. You can read it. I don't suggest printing it out since it's several hundred pages. Child support is in one area of the code. Alimony also known as spousal support is in another area. Spousal support is limited in Texas. You just don't "get" it. You have to "qualify" to get it. Then in an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce, both parties have to sign the final paperwork agreeing that spousal support will be paid and for how long.
I suspect that you did not have a Texas attorney review your paperwork before you signed the Final Decree of Divorce.
You did not state if your husband was an attorney. However, if you qualified for alimony, he obviously did NOT include it in your paperwork. If he purchased the paperwork off the internet, most of these kits are from companies outside the State of Texas and they are not based on the wording usually used by Texas lawyers.
Unfortunately, if it's been more than 30 days after the judge has signed the Final Decree of Divorce your divorce is final in the State of Texas. Your time period to contest the divorce has passed. Your divorce is over. The paperwork is final. You cannot go back and fight.
Typically you can't get alimony - but it does depend on the circumstances. Temporary support is more common.
Tax differences - Alimony is tax deductible and treated as income; child support is not.
I offer free consultations and am quite familiar with family judges in Harris County and nearby counties.
Mr. Dick is licensed to practice law in Texas and office located in Harris County. His phone number is 832-207-2007 or 713-510-4500 or his email address is listed below.
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