Estranged Texas couples can include alimony provisions in their negotiated divorce settlements. If they do not, parties can petition the court to award them spousal maintenance. However, their petition will only be successful if they are unable to provide for their basic needs. Even when this can be established, judges in Texas only award alimony to spouses who were married for 10 years or longer, were married for less than 10 years to a spouse who violently mistreated them, are unable to work an earn a living because they take care of a child with special needs, or are unable to enter the workforce because of a mental or physical disability.
The length of time alimony is paid in Texas
When Texas judges do award spousal maintenance, they impose strict time limits. If the award is made because the recipient cares for a special needs child or suffers from a physical or mental disability, alimony may be paid for as long as the conditions persist. In all other situations, the amount of time spousal maintenance is paid is established by Texas law and based on the length of the marriage. These time limits are:
- Alimony is paid for up to 5 years when the receiving spouse was married for between 10 and 20 years or for less than 10 years to an abusive spouse.
- Alimony is paid for up to 7 years when the receiving spouse was married for between 20 and 30 years.
- Alimony is paid for up to 10 years when the receiving spouse was married for 30 years or longer.
The amount of alimony in Texas
Before deciding how much spousal maintenance to award, judges consider factors including the needs of the receiving spouse, the income of the paying spouse and whether or not assets were concealed or destroyed during the divorce. However, they cannot order a spouse to pay more than the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of their monthly income before taxes.
Modifying spousal maintenance orders
Paying or receiving spouses may petition the court to modify spousal support orders when there is a significant change in circumstances. If you wish to change an alimony order, an experienced family law attorney could submit the necessary paperwork and advocate on your behalf during a modification hearing.