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How is alimony determined in Texas?

While spousal maintenance -- commonly called alimony -- is rare in Texas, there are situations where alimony may be awarded. Before that happens, though, multiple factors must be considered to determine whether one spouse is entitled to alimony.

Who can get spousal maintenance?

There are two ways to get alimony in Texas. One way is for the spouses to agree on a support plan on their own through mediation or private negotiations. This route may be taken to help equalize the division of community property. Alternatively, the spouse seeking support can petition the court for alimony payments.

If you have to go to court, there are several factors that a judge will consider before deciding whether you meet the eligibility requirements for alimony. The most important factor is your ability or inability to provide for your basic needs. Along with that, one of the following conditions must also apply:

  • Your spouse committed an act of family violence either during the marriage or after the filing of the divorce petition.
  • You are physically or mentally unable to financially provide for yourself.
  • You are unable to provide for your own basic needs because you have a child who requires exceptional care due to disability or other physical or mental illness.
  • You are unable to provide for your own basic needs and you were married for 10 or more years.

If you qualify, a judge will set the support amount and duration period based on the current state guidelines.

Amount and duration

If awarded spousal support, you will either receive $5,000 a month or 20 percent of your former spouse's gross monthly income, whichever is less. The duration of payments will primarily depend on the duration of your marriage. Current state guidelines state that:

  • For marriages lasting 10 to 20 years, or those that lasted less than 10 years and the paying spouse was abusive, alimony payments may continue up to five years.
  • For marriages lasting 20 to 30 years, alimony payments may continue up to seven years.
  • For marriages lasting over 30 years, a court may order spousal support for up to 10 years.

Under very specific circumstances, the awarding of financial support on an indefinite basis is possible.

Requesting support and appealing a denied request

Requesting alimony is fairly simple. It is a matter of filing the appropriate petition in court and supplying proof of income and any other support documentation that will help your case. Legal counsel can help you prepare the request for submission. If you request alimony, but your petition is not approved, you may be able to appeal the decision. Your legal counsel can provide more information about how to do this.

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