How Long Will Alimony or Spousal Maintenance Last After My Texas Divorce?
Alimony in Texas is legally known as “spousal maintenance”. Regardless of what you call it, the concept is the same—it is a payment from one spouse to another that arises out of a divorce proceeding. How long these payments will last depends on the facts of your unique situation.
Why Would either Spouse Get Alimony at All?
Alimony is meant to be a temporary solution to support one spouse after a divorce. It accounts for the gap in income between the couple. The funds are often used by one spouse to get accustomed to living life on one income. Especially when they have significantly lower income compared to the other spouse, have been out of work for some time, or need to go back to school to be employable.
The circumstances in which the Court would award alimony are very limited. Because Texas is a community property state, any income or assets that the couple acquires during their marriage is considered part of the marital estate. That means that dividing assets in a Texas divorce is often very close to being equal. Alimony acts as a way to also “equalize” the income of the couple.
Qualifying to Receive Spousal Maintenance in Texas
The spouse requesting alimony must show that they cannot afford to meet their minimum needs based on their current income. They must also show evidence of other exceptional circumstances as well. Examples include:
- The paying spouse committed an act of family violence (based on a conviction or a deferred adjudication)
- The requesting spouse’s inability to support themselves is due to a physical or mental disability (either their own or a child’s disability)
- The marriage lasted at least ten years
Qualifications for alimony in Texas are strict, and it is not always a given.
Determining How Long Alimony Payments Will Last
There are several “tiers” that apply to spousal maintenance awards.
- 5 Years: Spousal maintenance can be awarded for up to five years if the marriage lasted less than ten years, and the spouse was abusive. Five years can also be awarded if the marriage was between 10 and 20 years long.
- 7 Years: If the marriage was between 20 and 30 years long, then up to 7 years of alimony may be awarded.
- 10 Years: Up to ten years of alimony can be awarded if the marriage lasted more than 30 years.
Most alimony awards will not be longer than ten years. That is unless the couple has a disabled child and the underlying requirements for alimony continue to exist. Then, the duration of the alimony award may be indefinite.
Regardless of whether you are requesting alimony or your previous spouse is asking you to pay it, having an experienced Texas family law attorney like Lauren Cain on your side can be a big help to address these complicated legal issues.