If you’re on the road to divorce, you probably have a lot of questions. You may be wondering if spousal maintenance(also known as alimony or spousal support) will be awarded in your case and if so, how long it will last. Whether you expect to be paying or receiving spousal maintenance, these are reasonable questions. In this article, we discuss the basics of spousal maintenance and how long it is typically awarded for in a divorce.
It is a common misconception that alimony is automatically awarded in a divorce. That is not the case, not in Texas and not in any state. Spousal maintenance is strictly awarded on a case-by-case basis. In Texas, there are three main scenarios where a spouse may be eligible for spousal support, including:
- The higher-earning spouse has been convicted of family violence (domestic violence) against their spouse or their child in the previous two years or while the divorce is still pending;
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years and the lower-earning spouse cannot afford to be self-supporting AND he or she is disabled, caring for a disabled child, or they lack the earning capacity to provide for their basic needs; OR
- The spouses agree that the wealthier spouse will pay spousal maintenance for a set period of time.
“How does the court decide that my spouse doesn’t have the ability to provide for themselves to meet their basic needs?” you may ask. If your spouse is seeking spousal maintenance based on the argument that they need it, the court will look at various factors, including each of your income and assets, education and employment skills, if your spouse needs education and training to earn more income, and the availability of that training.
Terminating Spousal Support in Texas
If the higher-earning spouse was convicted of family violence within the past two years or if they received deferred adjudication for the offense, or if the marriage lasted at least 10 years but less than 20 years, the spousal maintenance cannot last more than 5 years.
If the marriage lasted more than 20 years but less than 30 years, spousal maintenance cannot last more than 7 years. And if the marriage lasted 30 or more years, the spousal maintenance cannot last more than 10 years.
However, if the receiving spouse is disabled or taking care of a disabled child and he or she cannot meet their reasonable needs, the spousal maintenance may not have an end date. Instead, the award may remain in effect indefinitely or as long as it is truly needed.
Have further questions about spousal maintenance in a Texas divorce? Contact The Law Office of Gregory C. Goline, PLLC to learn more.