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How Do Courts Decide Alimony in Texas?

Many spouses going through a divorce are worried about getting or paying a fair amount of alimony. These payments, which may be monthly or paid in a lump sum, are often crucial for spouses who lack earning capacity. 

However, spousal maintenance—the legal term for alimony in Texas—is not awarded in every divorce. In fact, state law requires the presumption that spousal maintenance is not appropriate in any particular case. This means the burden is on the requesting spouse to prove that maintenance is appropriate. 

Four Main Ways to Receive Alimony

Again, spousal maintenance in Texas is decided on a case-by-case basis. If any of these four conditions exist, the requesting spouse has a good chance at receiving maintenance: 

  1. Both spouses agree to a spousal maintenance arrangement. The judge may modify the duration of the maintenance depending on the original agreement.
  2. The requesting spouse lacks the means to cover basic necessities. This is an acceptable reason if the marriage lasted 10 years or the requesting spouse has a mental or physical condition that prevents the ability to earn a satisfactory income. 
  3. The supporting spouse was found guilty of a family violence offense within two years of the divorce filing. A conviction for family violence may also trigger spousal maintenance if it occurs after the divorce filing but before the divorce is finalized. 
  4. The requesting spouse is the primary conservator of a child with a serious mental or physical condition. Caring for the child must preclude the spouse from earning a satisfactory income.

How Much Will You or Your Spouse Receive?

Some states have formulas to calculate the proper spousal maintenance amount. Texas law does not provide a calculator for spousal maintenance, but it does cap payments at either $5,000 or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s monthly gross income—whichever is less. 

How Long Will You or Your Spouse Receive Spousal Maintenance Payments?

Except in rare circumstances, judges will not award indefinite spousal maintenance. That usually comes into play when either the receiving spouse or child of the receiving spouse has a serious physical or mental condition. Maintenance awarded due to domestic violence is capped at five years (regardless of the marriage’s length). 

Otherwise, spousal maintenance may be awarded for five years if the marriage lasted 10–20 years, seven years for 20–30 years, and 10 years for any marriage lasting longer than 30 years. 

Call an Experienced Texas Attorney to Help Protect Your Interests

Even if you believe that you deserve spousal maintenance, there is no guarantee that a judge will see things the same way. Courts must consider a wide variety of factors when deciding on maintenance amount and duration. Our experienced team is prepared to aggressively represent you in and out of court for your family law matter, and we will pull out all the stops to get favorable results. Call us at (210) 686-4878 to discuss your legal needs.

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Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, PLLC

The Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, PLLC is focused solely on the needs of our clients. We provide professional and effective representation in the areas of personal injury and family law, in addition to our work with Wills and estates.

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