Alimony by no means plays a role in every divorce, but it can be an important term in those divorces that leave one spouse without the financial means to support themselves. If you have questions or concerns related to alimony, reach out to an experienced Texas divorce attorney for the help you need today.
**In Texas, a judge has full discretion in setting alimony. Ask our attorneys about what other factors that may impact spousal support.
** The maximum duration of spousal maintenance will be equal to 0 years if the marriage lasted less tan 10 years UNLESS there was an act of family violence. Consult it with our attorneys.
** The maximum duration of spousal maintenance can result indefinite if the paying spouse has an incapacitating physical or mental disability, or is caretaker of a disabled child. Consult it with our attorneys.
Alimony Calculator Helps You to Estimate the Likely Amount and Duration of a Texas Alimony
While your divorce proceedings will progress based on the specific circumstances of your case and
alimony determinations are always made on an individual basis, Mims Ballew Hollingsworth provides a Texas alimony calculator to offer you a clearer insight into your eligibility for spousal support. Additionally, it can help estimate the likely amount and duration of alimony you may receive.
Here are the steps to utilize the Alimony Calculator:
1. In the “High Earner Annual Gross Income” field, input the annual gross income of the spouse responsible for paying spousal maintenance. It’s important to note that in Texas, the maximum alimony amount granted – except in cases of contractual marital agreements – is either $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the payer’s monthly gross income, whichever is less.
2. Under “Marriage Length Years,” select the number of years your marriage endured.
As a result, you will receive information on the “Maximum Maintenance Duration” and an estimation of the “Maintenance Payment.” These outcomes are contingent on both the duration of your marriage and the annual gross income of the higher-earning spouse.
Alimony serves the same purpose as spousal maintenance, which is to help the lower-earning spouse get re-established in independently supporting themselves as a lifestyle adjustment is often called for after divorce. When the earning power of each spouse is vastly different, alimony can help balance things out moving forward. Alimony is simply spousal maintenance that a couple mutually agrees to in their divorce settlement.
Spousal maintenance is essentially court-ordered alimony. Spousal maintenance must be applied for, though. Unlike child support, which is automatically awarded if minor children are involved, spousal maintenance has to be requested. Furthermore, alimony agreements are legally-binding contracts that are enforceable like any other contract. In casual conversations, you will frequently hear the terms used interchangeably, but technically, they are not the same.
During a dissolution of marriage proceeding in Texas, the lower-earning spouse can request alimony if he or she doesn’t have the resources to live independently. For example, a stay-at-home parent might request spousal maintenance in order to continue tending to the children and/or because they are now years behind in the job market.
Certain requirements must be met in order for spousal maintenance to be an option. In Texas, there is no “palimony” (required maintenance payments for non-spouses, a “baby mama” or boyfriend, etc.
For example, the law requires:
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Eligibility for spousal maintenance is limited to very specific cases. The requirements are high, and the payment duration and amounts are strictly regimented. Texas is a community property state (meaning marital assets get divided as close to 50/50 as possible vs. most states that split marital assets based on fairness). This can often benefit lower-earning spouses and homemakers, or stay-at-home parents are not penalized for the unpaid work they were doing during the marriage.
Again, unlike child support in Texas, there is no “standard” amount of time for payments. Spousal maintenance is much more subjective and based on individual circumstances. You could think of it as having the opportunity to argue for or against the alimony arrangement, unlike with child support, where you don’t need to “prove your case.” Couples can make their own alimony agreements through their divorce settlement. Being familiar with what standards the court weighs in evaluating alimony requests can be helpful in working out your own alimony agreement.
Spousal maintenance is by no means “automatic,” even if you meet the qualifications. It is difficult to get spousal maintenance, especially in Texas. The burden of proof is high, the requirements are steep, and, ultimately, the decision of the court is discretionary. Evidence must be gathered to prove to the court that you need this financial assistance after the divorce. We always encourage qualifying spouses to negotiate alimony in the settlement rather than rely on the court to award maintenance. Temporary spousal maintenance is available as well if there is an immediate need.
Types of Spousal Maintenance Decrees
The court has a variety of options for the kinds of spousal maintenance decrees that can be issued:
Alimony is evaluated on a case-by-case basis in Texas. A judge will consider a variety of factors in determining whether alimony should be awarded and, if so, how much for how long. Both sides will have an opportunity to present their cases regarding spousal maintenance.
The court will look into these types of things as well:
In general, Texas caps spousal maintenance pay-outs at five years. Modifications are possible, though. Reasons alimony might be updated
If you need to modify your current spousal maintenance agreement, the court has modification paperwork, or you can contact an attorney. After your paperwork is submitted, a hearing with the judge will be scheduled.
Generally, whether spousal maintenance is to be awarded in a divorce or not is something a judge will determine. It is rare for spousal maintenance to be decided by a jury in Texas. It’s far more common (but still rare) to have a child support or marital asset division issue heard before a jury than for a matter of alimony. Some counties may have little nuances in how they handle spousal maintenance petitions, which is why it’s so important to consult an experienced Texas spousal maintenance lawyer. Family law attorneys are going to be well-versed in all aspects regarding alimony and maintenance.
While, again, there is no cut-and-dried formula for deciding how much spousal maintenance should be awarded, if any, Texas law does limit the amount of alimony that can be ordered. The monthly cap is $5,000 and/or no more than 20% of the paying spouse’s income. There are some nuances involved in determining what one spouse’s income is for the purposes of evaluating an alimony petition. To learn more about Texas spousal maintenance rules, you can review Texas Family Code 8.
In addition to Texas alimony amounts being capped, another restriction that is imposed by the court is regarding the length of time alimony can be paid out. There is no such thing as indefinitely
ongoing spousal maintenance in Texas. The law outlines these restrictions:
Also, note that a couple must be married for over a decade for any alimony to be requested at all.
If your court-ordered alimony payments are not being made, the receiving spouse needs to report this immediately. Contact your divorce lawyer right away. The court has many remedies to enforce spousal maintenance orders, such as:
There are a lot of complexities to Texas spousal maintenance–don’t be fooled by a calculator app proposing to tell you how much you could receive. For all of your alimony questions and concerns, please feel free to reach out to Mims, Ballew & Hollingsworth online. Our Fort Worth spousal maintenance attorneys look forward to connecting with you.