Alimony in Texas

There is no provision for “alimony” in Texas. There is however, a provision for “spousal maintenance” both during and after a divorce. People going through a divorce are most concerned about making monthly payments to their spouse after a divorce and characterize it as “alimony.” Before 1995 the award of post-divorce alimony or spousal maintenance by a court was not permitted in Texas. However the parties could agree to such payments of “alimony” by contract.

Effective September 1, 1995 a law was passed authorizing courts to award post-divorce spousal maintenance but under strictly limited circumstances. One of these circumstances is if the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of an act or criminal family violence and divorce is filed within 2 years of the conviction or deferred adjudication. The other circumstance is that the marriage is 10 years or longer and the spouse is unable to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs; is unable to support himself or herself due to a physical or mental disability; or is the custodian of a disabled child. The award is further limited to a maximum of 5, 7 or 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage and limited to 20% of the spouse’s average monthly income up to a maximum of $5,000 per month.

Spousal maintenance awarded under this law is enforceable by contempt if the other spouse doesn’t pay. It is also subject to modification or termination by the court.

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