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How is Alimony Calculated in Texas?

In Texas, alimony is called spousal maintenance. It consists of periodic payments made by one spouse to the other after divorce. Unfortunately, Texas is one of the least generous states when it comes to maintenance. Not every spouse will qualify.

In some states, alimony is automatic, and a spouse could receive it indefinitely, for decades until they die. Texas has chosen a different approach. You must satisfy a rigorous test to even qualify. Then, a judge will look at many factors to determine the amount and duration. Our San Antonio spousal support lawyer provides an overview of spousal maintenance in this article.

Call the Law Office of David J. Rodriguez for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

Eligibility for Texas Alimony

You will only receive spousal maintenance if you satisfy the following test. The most important requirement, found in Section 8.051, is that a spouse requesting maintenance cannot reasonably provide for their minimum, basic needs. A judge will look to see whether you can pay for rent or mortgage and cover the cost of food, utilities, and medical bills.

Once you prove that element, then you must prove one of the following:

1.       Your spouse was convicted of family violence while the divorce was pending or in the two-year period immediately before the divorce suit was filed, or

2.       You cannot earn sufficient income because of a physical or mental disability, or

3.       You were married for at least 10 years and lack the ability to earn sufficient income, or

4.       You are the custodian of a child who needs substantial care and supervision due to a disability which prevents you from earning sufficient income.

If you can tick off the required boxes, then a judge will move on to consider the amount of monthly maintenance, as well as the duration.

Calculating the Amount

Let’s say you qualify for spousal maintenance. How much can you get?

Texas Family Code 8.055 sets the maximum spousal maintenance order at 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly income (or $5,000, whichever is lesser). So if your ex makes $10,000 a month, then the maximum he would have to pay is $2,000. If he made $4,000 a month, then the maximum is $800.

Many spouses will receive less than 20% of their ex’s gross monthly income. That’s the ceiling. A judge considers many factors when arriving at the precise amount, including:

1.       Each spouse’s ability to provide for their minimum needs.

2.       Each spouse’s education and job skills, including how much time it will take to acquire necessary skills to become self-sufficient.

3.       Length of the marriage.

4.       The age, education, and job history of the spouse seeking maintenance, as well as their physical and mental health.

5.       Any property each spouse brought into the marriage.

6.       Whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker.

7.       Marital misconduct, including adultery or cruelty during the marriage.

This is a non-exhaustive list. A judge can rely on anything relevant to determine the amount of alimony awarded.

It’s hard to say in the abstract how much you might receive. Contact our firm. We have appeared before many judges and are familiar with how they approach questions of spousal maintenance.

Duration of Maintenance

Texas law also sets out the maximum amount of time you can receive spousal maintenance. As you can see, Texas does not allow permanent (never-ending) alimony.

Spousal Maintenance for 5 Years:

·         You were married for less than 10 years, but the spouse paying was convicted of family violence while your divorce was pending or in the two years before the suit was filed, or

·         You were married for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years.

Spousal Maintenance for 7 Years

·         You were married for at least 20 years but less than 30.

Spousal Maintenance for 10 Years

·         You were married for at least 30 years.

Nonetheless, the state requires a judge to set maintenance at the shortest, most reasonable amount of time that it will take a spouse to become self-sufficient. Depending on the facts, you could be married for 35 years but get only a year of maintenance.

Furthermore, maintenance can be terminated early. If the spouse receiving maintenance remarries, then it is automatically terminated. A judge will also terminate it if the receiving spouse moves in with a romantic partner.

Speak with a Texas Alimony Attorney Today

Requesting spousal maintenance (alimony) is a challenging process. As you can see, there are very specific requirements to meet. Our Texas alimony attorney knows how to present a petition for alimony to the court. Call to schedule a consultation.