Is alimony allowed in Texas?
In all divorces filed after August of 1995, the court can order that one spouse pay support to the other after the divorce has been finalized. In other states this is referred to as “alimony” but in Texas it is referred to as spousal maintenance. However, the availability to qualify for spousal maintenance is limited to cases in which (1) the marriage lasted at least ten years, (2) the spouse seeking support lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs, (3) the spouse seeking support (a) is unable to support herself or himself due to an incapacitation (such as physical and/or mental disability) that prevents that spouse from being employed, or (b) lacks earning ability adequate to support his or her minimum reasonable needs, and (4) the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical and/or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs. A spouse may also, however, seek spousal maintenance if the other spouse has received deferred adjudication or has been convicted of a criminal offense involving domestic violence within two years before the divorce was filed or during the pendency of the suit.
There are many notable restrictions on awards of spousal maintenance. Unless the spouse seeking alimony has a serious physical mental disability, the court may not order spousal maintenance for more than the time period or amount allowed by the statute. For marriages lasting a minimum of 10 years but not more than 20 years, the duration of court-ordered spousal maintenance is not to exceed more than five years. For marriages lasting at least 20 years but not more than 30 years, the duration of court-ordered spousal maintenance is not to exceed seven years. For marriages lasting 30 years or more, the duration of court-ordered spousal maintenance is not to exceed ten years. Regardless of the length of the marriage, the court may not order spousal maintenance to exceed the lesser of $5,000.00 or 20% of the paying-spouse’s average gross monthly income and in no event should it be for more than the “minimum reasonable needs” of the spouse seeking support. However, all of these limitations above apply solely to court-ordered spousal maintenance. The parties can independently contractually agree to any amount of alimony and for any length of time.