Understanding Alimony in Texas Divorce Cases
Deer Park attorney fights for fair orders on spousal maintenance
What many people call alimony is referred to as spousal maintenance in the Texas Family Code. Unlike some other states, Texas residents who relied on their spouse’s income are only authorized to receive post-divorce payments in a few specific circumstances. Whether you believe you are entitled to maintenance or are being asked to provide it, The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant in Deer Park will advise you on how the law applies to your case and advocate for an appropriate resolution.
Factors considered for alimony in Texas
While parties to a divorce can negotiate maintenance payments on their own, Texas courts will only require an ex-spouse to provide alimony in either of the following circumstances:
- The party being asked to provide maintenance, known as the obligor, was convicted or received deferred adjudication in a case involving violence against their spouse or child in the two years prior to the divorce filing
- In situations where the couple has been married at least 10 years and the spouse requesting payments (the obligee) lacks the ability to support themselves, maintenance can be ordered if the obligee is either disabled, responsible for taking care of a disabled child or unable to meet their basic needs.
These requirements for alimony can be difficult to satisfy and require reliable supporting evidence. Courts will also look at the asset division among the parties in a divorce to assess whether payments should be ordered.
Types of alimony in Texas
A spouse is able to collect temporary alimony while their marriage dissolution proceeding is pending. Our Deer Park divorce lawyers advocate for fair terms for both temporary and post-divorce maintenance. As Texas law only authorizes maintenance under specific circumstances, it is meant to provide the recipient just what they reasonably need to pay for core expenses until they establish or re-establish their ability to support themselves.
Calculating alimony payments in Texas
Courts can review a wide range of relevant circumstances when calculating alimony, but no monthly award can exceed $5,000 or 20 percent of the obligor’s average gross income, whichever is less. Within these bounds, judges often look at each party’s specific needs, income and earning ability, contributions that one spouse made to the other’s career and the duration of the marriage to pinpoint a suitable figure. Domestic violence and other types of marital misconduct, such as the squandering of the couple’s community property, can also be considered.
How long does alimony last in Texas?
When spousal maintenance is awarded, the duration of the payments usually is linked to the length of the marriage. Maintenance that is granted based on family violence or for a marriage that lasts between 10 and 20 years cannot be ordered for more than five years. This limit is extended to seven years (marriages lasting between 20-30 years) and 10 years (marriages lasting more than 30 years) for longer unions.
Enforcing alimony orders in Texas
Former spouses that fail to comply with a maintenance order are subject to sanctions from the court, including a possible contempt finding. If you are not receiving the payments you are owed, our firm can file a motion to enforce the order or seek compliance through informal means. One possible result of a motion to enforce is a judgment from the court requiring the obligor to provide the full amount of maintenance owed.
Contact an experienced Texas family lawyer regarding an alimony issue
The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant handles all types of matters relating to spousal maintenance issues associated with Texas divorces. Please call 281-817-0998 or contact us online to make an appointment with a qualified attorney at our Deer Park office.