While the divorce process includes dividing property, and making decisions on child custody, one component that can cause much disagreement is whether a spouse should receive alimony or spousal support from the other spouse. Texas law outlines under what circumstances a spouse is eligible to receive alimony payments, how much the payments can be and how long they would receive the payments.
To be eligible to receive alimony in Texas, one of the following two conditions must be met:
1) Inability to earn an income: The spouse petitioning to receive alimony is unable to work or earn an income that is enough to support their reasonable needs. The inability to work must be due to one of the following, unless the marriage has lasted at least 10 years:
- A physical or mental disability
- Their responsibility as the caregiver of a physically or mentally disabled child or children of the marriage
2) One spouse committed domestic or family violence: The spouse that is being asked to pay alimony was convicted of domestic or family violence, or they received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence. The act of violence must have been committed either during the time they were married (but no more than two years before the suit or divorce) or during the divorce, as it is pending.
How much alimony would a spouse be eligible to receive?
In Texas, the court awards the lesser of these two scenarios: either $5,000 per month, or 20 percent of the paying spouse's average monthly gross income.
The length of time a former spouse can receive alimony depends on the length of time the marriage lasted, whether the paying spouse was abusive, and whether the spouse receiving alimony is disabled, or caring for a disabled child of the marriage. If either the spouse or child is disabled, the alimony may be paid for an indefinite period of time. Otherwise, the following lengths of time may apply:
- If the marriage lasted 10 years and the paying spouse was abusive: Alimony would be paid up to five years
- If the marriage lasted 10 -20 years: Alimony would be paid up to five years
- If the marriage lasted 20-30 years: Alimony would be paid up to seven years
- If the marriage lasted more than 30 years: Alimony would be paid up to 10 years
No two divorces are the same. It is helpful to look for an attorney who is skilled in the area of family law to help you through your divorce and work to make sure the outcomes are best for you and your family. An attorney who is prepared to discuss the often emotional topics such as alimony and family violence can make the divorce process less overwhelming.