Alimony in Texas Overview
Spousal maintenance is the technical term used for alimony or spousal support in Texas.
Texas law is designed for alimony to be short-term, with the length of the marriage playing a large role in spouse’s qualifying for support.
Alimony in Texas has expanded in scope over the past several years in terms of who qualifies to receive it and for how much time.
As this is an evolving area of Texas law, hiring a Houston alimony lawyer can be a wise decision.
The categories of individuals who potentially fall under the umbrella of alimony in Texas include spouses who stay at home, spouses married for more than 10 years, those who have obligations to care for disabled children, spouses with disabilities and victims of family violence.
If you want legal assistance in dealing with your spouse and alimony, you need effective representation from experienced litigators. Contact the qualified Houston alimony lawyers at The Larson Office today for your complimentary case review. 713-221-9088.
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Can I Get Alimony in My Divorce?
Under Texas law, alimony is also referred to as “spousal maintenance” or “spousal support.” Spousal support is designed to provide temporary support for a spouse following divorce, rather than being a long-term proposition.
A spouse’s eligibility to receive spousal maintenance following the entry of a final divorce decree has been significantly expanded since it was created almost twenty years ago.
Spousal maintenance has grown from protecting only stay at home spouses who have been out of the workforce for many years to also including spouses who are responsible for disabled children, disabled spouses, and spouses who have experienced family violence.
Are You Eligible for TX Alimony?
In 2011, the Texas Legislature made substantial revisions to alimony eligibility. To qualify, a person must claiming spousal support must establish through evidence that:
- The person actually a spouse – or at least claiming to be a spouse such as under a “common law” or informal marriage. Living together or cohabitating does not qualify a person to receive spousal support in Texas.
- The person does not have sufficient property to provide for the person’s “minimum reasonable needs.”
- The person meets one of the four following criteria: married for at least ten years and unable to earn a sufficient income, experienced family violence, spouse is disabled or child is disabled.
In deciding whether a person has “sufficient property”, the court can consider a variety of property types including the person’s income, which includes salary, bonuses, child support and other received money.
The court can also consider the income earned from property such as a rental property owned by the person. Also included in the court’s analysis would be any separate property and the value of the share of community property received by the person in the property division in the divorce decree.
This standard is not specifically defined by the Texas Family Code and is rather left to the family court to determine what a person’s minimum reasonable needs are.
Of course, this determination is based on evidence presented to the judge and can include a variety of expenses including housing, utilities, automobile related expenses, insurance, credit cards, medical costs and child care expenses, among others.
The ten year requirement is calculated from the date of marriage until the date of trial, rather than the date the divorce petition was filed. Additionally, the person seeking spousal support must prove they lacks the ability to earn a sufficient income and that they have made a diligent effort to earn a sufficient income or develop skills.
Spousal Support Requirements in Texas
For these categories of individuals, there are further eligibility requirements that must be met to receive alimony in Texas.
First, the person must be married. Simply living together without being formally married or informally married does not make a person eligible to receive spousal maintenance or alimony.
Second, the individual must be unable to provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs.” A person’s property (including separate property) that is considered includes paychecks, child support payments, interest, dividends, royalties and other income. This property is then compared to the person’s expenses related to her “minimum reasonable needs,” including expenses for a house or apartment, car or transportation bills, health care costs and additional expenses. A Houston alimony lawyer can provide assistance in gathering this information and presenting it to the family court.
Finally, the spouse must meet one of the following four factors:
- The marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years and the spouse is not able to earn a sufficient income to support herself and that a diligent effort was made to earn a sufficient income or to develop skills necessary to earn a sufficient income to support herself;
- The spouse suffers from a disability;
- Domestic violence against the spouse is established; or
- The spouse cares for a child who is disabled.