Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is a financial arrangement between divorced couples. Texas has specific rules to determine who can receive spousal support.
Understanding the factors affecting alimony can inform smart financial decisions during the divorce process.
Eligibility for spousal support
To be eligible, the spouse seeking support must show that they do not have the assets to meet their basic needs or have a disability. If the marriage lasted less than 10 years, they must show that the other spouse received a domestic violence conviction.
Factors in calculating spousal support
If a spouse is eligible for support, the court will consider various factors to determine the amount and duration of the support such as:
- Each spouse’s financial resources, property, assets and ability to cover their expenses
- The education and employment history of both spouses
- The age and physical and emotional health of the requesting spouse
- Any contributions made by one spouse to the other’s education or career
- Any marital misconduct, such as infidelity or cruelty
The court limits support to five years if the marriage lasted less than 20 years. The limit is seven years of support for marriages that last 20 to 30 years. If the marriage lasted longer than 30 years, the court can order up to 10 years of spousal support.
Types of spousal support
The state has two main types of spousal support. The court may award temporary support during the divorce. These payments keep both spouses at the same standard of living until they reach a final divorce agreement.
Long-term support, known as spousal maintenance, starts after the divorce. The court limits the amount and duration of these payments. The recipient must become financially self-sufficient within a specified period.
Spousal support modification or termination
The court will change or end a spousal support order in certain cases. You can petition for modification or termination if you pay alimony and your former spouse marries or moves in with someone else. You can also ask to change the terms of your spousal support order if either person’s financial circumstances significantly change.
The receiving spouse can seek legal enforcement if the paying spouse does not follow the support order. The court may issue a judgment for unpaid support, garnish their wages or pursue contempt of court charges.