Statutes Restrict Alimony in Texas
Compared with other states, Texas alimony has significantly greater restrictions. In New York or California, it is common to read about courts awarding high figure alimony payments to divorcees based on the couple's standard of living while married. Judges have considerable leeway in deciding alimony payments that maintain spouses in the lifestyles in which they had become accustomed. This is particularly true with celebrities and high net-worth individuals.
Texas Statues Limit Spousal Maintenance Amounts and Duration
Texas law refers to alimony as spousal maintenance. Furthermore, the Texas Family Code states that courts cannot order an ex-spouse to pay monthly maintenance that is greater than $5,000 a month or 20 percent of the spouses income, whichever is the lesser amount. Therefore, even if the spouse makes millions of dollars a year, the monthly alimony fee will not exceed $5,000.
Duration of Spousal Maintenance Orders
How long Texas spousal support can last depends on the length of the marriage. If the couple was married less than 10 years and the spouse was convicted of family violence, then maintenance can remain in effect for five years. If the marriage lasted 10 to 20 years, then a spouse may be required to pay maintenance up to 5 years. If the marriage duration was between 20 and 30 years, maintenance can last up to 7 years. It the marriage was 30 years or longer, then maintenance can last up to 10 years. If a spouse has a disability that prevents work or has to take care of a disabled child, spousal maintenance can last indefinitely.
Upon the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving support, the spousal maintenance obligation would end.
Other Restrictions on Texas Alimony
In Texas, spouses requesting alimony must meet several qualifications to be eligible. They must show they are not capable of meeting their minimum reasonable needs. Also, one of the two following conditions must exist:
First condition. The spouse paying alimony must have been convicted or received deferred adjudication for charges of family violence. (Deferred adjudication is a plea deal that allows judge ordered community supervision without actual conviction placed on record.) The family violence ruling must have occurred within two years prior to the date of the divorce lawsuit or during the divorce proceedings.
- A mental or physical disability prevents the spouse from providing for minimum reasonable needs.
- Or, the spouse is the custodian of a child who needs exceptional care due to physical or mental disability.
- Or, marriage duration was 10 or more years.
At Pfister Family Law, our attorneys can review the details of your situation, discuss the prospects of pursuing spousal maintenance and answer any questions you have.