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Alimony and Spousal Support

Alimony is the regular payment one spouse makes to the other  to provide support during or after a divorce proceeding.  In Texas, a court order for alimony is called “spousal maintenance.”

The court can order spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking support will not have enough property at the time of the divorce to provide for basic needs and one of the following criteria is met:

  • one spouse is convicted of committing family violence during the divorce or within two years before the divorce was filed
  • the spouse seeking support is unable to earn enough income because of a physical or mental disability
  • the spouses were married for ten years or longer, and the spouse seeking support is unable to earn enough income to provide for basic needs
  • the spouse seeking support has custody of a child who requires special care and supervision because of a mental or physical disability

After the need for a maintenance order has been approved, the judge will  consider several factors to determine how much support will be and how long the support will last:

  • each spouse's financial resources at the time of the divorce 
  • each spouse's education and employment skills
  • the length of the marriage
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional health of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • whether either spouse is paying child support
  • whether either spouse spent community property funds excessively or destroyed/disposed of joint property
  • whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the education or training of the other spouse
  • the property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • whether one spouse was a homemaker 
  • acts of adultery or cruel treatment by either spouse
  • any family violence

No matter what the circumstances are, the court must limit the length of the order. This allows the spouse receiving payments to get on their feet and achieve the skills to be able to earn enough income to meet basic needs, unless that spouse cannot do so because of a disability, an infant or young child of the marriage, or because there is some other reason that the spouse cannot be self-supporting.