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How long do maintenance payments last?

The Texas Family Code contains specific provisions relating to spousal maintenance, including the reasons for which it can be ordered and limitations upon its duration. If an eligible spouse is awarded alimony payments by the court, then the length of time that the payments will continued is determined by the law.

The primary determining factor is the length of time of the marriage. For example, if two people were married for more than 30 years and divorced in such a way that one spouse was eligible for maintenance, then the maintenance order could not last longer than 10 years under any circumstances. The maximum duration of spousal maintenance is seven years for people who were married between 20 and 29 years, and only five years when the duration of their union was less than 20 years.

However, under no circumstance can the maintenance order last longer than the minimum amount of time that the ex-spouse may be reasonably expected to find a sufficient source of income or other support. Unless the recipient is physically disabled, mentally disabled, serving as the custodian of a young child from the marriage or has another obstacle in the way of earning income, he or she will be required to attain financial independence as quickly as possible.

Those who are divorcing or considering a divorce may wish to consult with an attorney as to applicable laws and qualifications regarding the award of alimony. Questions of spousal support eligibility and payment size are answered by a careful balancing of all available evidence before the court, and the assistance of an attorney may be valuable to those who need to receive maintenance for a period of time after the divorce is finalized.

Source: Texas Family Code, "Sec. 8.054. DURATION OF MAINTENANCE ORDER.", October 30, 2014

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