Alimony in Texas

In Texas, alimony is referred to as “Spousal Maintenance.” Spousal Maintenance is a monthly payment made by one spouse to another as a means of financial support. Texas law presumes that spousal maintenance should not be ordered in a divorce. There are a couple of ways to overcome this presumption and have a spouse pay spousal maintenance, but neither is easy to prove.

In both situations, the court must find that the spouse, upon the divorce, will lack sufficient property to provide for his or her own minimum needs.

Additionally, the court must find at least one of the following:

  1. The other spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence against the spouse or the spouse's child within two years of the divorce being filed or while the divorce is pending; or
  2. The spouse seeking spousal maintenance has a incapacitating physical or mental disability that does not allow that spouse to earn a sufficient income to meet his or her reasonable minimum needs; or
  3. The spouse seeking spousal maintenance is the custodian of a disabled child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision; or
  4. The spouses were married for at least 10 years and the spouse seeking spousal maintenance lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.

However, if the reason above is because the marriage exceeds 10 years, it is presumed that the request for maintenance is not warranted unless the spouse seeking maintenance has exercised due diligence in trying to earn sufficient income or developing skills necessary to provide for him or herself financially.

Amount and Length of Spousal Maintenance

If Spousal Maintenance is ordered, the judge may only order what is necessary to meet the non-paying spouse’s minimum needs. This may not be more than 20% of the paying spouse’s gross monthly income or $5,000 per month, whichever is less.

Spousal Maintenance may be ordered for a maximum period of five years for those spouses married over ten years but less than twenty years; up to seven years for marriages lasting longer than twenty years but less than thirty years; and it may be ordered for a maximum of ten years for those spouses who were married over thirty years. The court will only order the length of time that is necessary to meet the non-paying spouse’s minimum needs.