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Texas Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Posted by attorney Christopher Harding

Texas is very different than most other states when it comes to awarding continuing support payments from one spouse to the other. While you hear of spouses being paid large sums for months or years after the divorce on the east or west coast, those stories never come from Texas. That is because, in Texas, a Court has one of two large initial hurdles.

First, the Court can award spousal maintenance if there has been domestic violence within two years of filing of divorce or during the pendency of the case.

Second, the Court can award spousal maintenance if the marriage lasted over ten years and if, after the split of assets, the spouse still would not be able to provide for their reasonable needs AND either (1) cannot work due to a physical or mental issue, (2) has a child with a physical or mental disability that requires their constant supervision, or (3) clearly lacks earning capability (typically they have no marketable skills).

If the Court can get past one of those two hurdles, their power is still limited. They can order a maximum of $2,500.00 per month for three years, taking into account a number of factors geared at getting the spouse into the workforce as quickly as possible and stopping those same payments.

For these reasons, most attorneys representing the non-wage earner will try instead to get the spouse to AGREE to alimony (different term, same basic idea, just not court-ordered), or a larger portion of the marital estate.

While there are a couple of bills going through the legislative process right now that would ease those hurdles, right now the non-wage earner can sometimes be in a very difficult situation after divorce.

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