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Is spousal support available in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Spousal Support

Divorce can greatly affect a person’s economic situation, especially if one spouse has left the workforce for a considerable period or indeed never worked. But spousal support, sometimes called alimony, can provide economic stability for a spouse under specific circumstances based on length of the marriage and/or abusive conduct by the other spouse.

Spousal Support awards in Texas are not automatic. Texas is a community property state. The court will look to see is the financially vulnerable spouse will be able to meet their minimum reasonable needs after a just and right division of the community estate. The party who needs spousal maintenance must petition the court for it, if they and their spouse cannot agree to terms on their own.

The petitioning party must prove they need spousal support to cover minimum reasonable needs.

Factors the court considers when awarding alimony

Length of the marriage: has the spouse been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or is the spouse the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the their minimum reasonable needs.

Abuse during the marriage: if the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence committed during the marriage against the spouse seeking support or the other spouse’s child and the offense occurred within two years before the date the divorce is filed or while the divorce is pending, spousal maintenance may be sought regardless of the length of the marriage.

Several factors play a role in a court’s decision about spousal maintenance. These can include:

  • Age of both parties
  • Employment history and earning ability
  • Length of the marriage

The court considers each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, education and helping to build the career of the other spouse.

Educational disparities between the spouses can also impact a spousal support award. The court will consider the time necessary for the spouse seeking support to acquire adequate education or training for employment.

Spousal support award limits are built into law

Texas law sets clear limits on calculating spousal support. The court may award the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income.

Spousal support in Texas is not permanent. The law has built-in limits of 5 to 10 years, based on the length of the marriage. In some cases, the presence of abuse can also impact the length of alimony payments.

Understanding how Texas laws can impact an alimony petition can help both parties learn what might be ordered. Legal representation in these cases can provide valuable assistance with protecting each individual’s rights.