The alimony laws governing spousal maintenance in Texas are different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the TX alimony law.
All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.
What is Alimony?
Also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Lone Star State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.
Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.
This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.
Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in TX
In Texas, there are two types of spousal support: court-ordered spousal support and contractual alimony.
Court-ordered Spousal Support in Texas
Court-ordered spousal support is exactly what it sounds like: a judge will decide whether or not the spouse seeking support is eligible, and then the court will decide how much to award for a set period of time.
Contractual Alimony in TX
The divorcing couple negotiates contractual alimony outside of court. It may make it easier for that spouse to qualify for a home or allow them to take over a mortgage payment. This assistance could also be used for educational or job skill development.
Contractual alimony can stop when a set amount of time has passed or after a specified milestone has been met, such as gaining a job, remarriage, or achieving a certain level of steady income.
Who Pays Alimony in Texas?
In Texas alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.
Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Lone Star State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.
So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in Texas if the above conditions are met.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last in TX?
When determining the duration of maintenance awards in Texas, Texas law requires judges to follow rigorous rules. If a judge directs a spouse to pay support due to a physical or mental handicap, duties as the custodial parent of the marriage’s infant or young child, or another compelling reason, support can be continued for as long as the requirements exist. In the future, the court may require a periodic review of the support order. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054 (2).)
Texas law limits support for any other maintenance orders to:
- Five years, If the couple has been married for less than ten years and the supporting spouse has been convicted of domestic abuse.
- Five years, if the couple has been married for more than 10 years but less than 20 years
- Seven years, if the couple has been married for at least 20 years but not more than 30 years.
- Ten years if the couple has been married for 30 years or longer.
(Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §8.054 (1))
Unless there is a physical or mental condition, a custodial parent, or another compelling circumstance, Texas law requires judges to order assistance for the shortest period of time required for the dependent spouse to become self-sufficient. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.054 (2).)
Maintenance orders will come to an end prior to their expiration dates if the following conditions are met:
- Neither party survives.
- The spouse who has been helped remarries.
- While in a dating or love relationship, the supported spouse cohabitates with a third party or
- pending a court review or subsequent order
(Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.056.)
How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in Texas
When it comes to collecting spousal support in Texas, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.
Average Alimony Payment in Texas
Unlike many other states, Texas has a rule that limits the amount of assistance a judge can order. Maintenance payments cannot exceed $5000 per month or 20% of the spouse’s average monthly gross income (whichever is less). (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.055.)
A judge is likely to order spousal maintenance payments to be made on a regular basis (typically monthly). The court may issue an income withholding order, instructing the paying spouse’s employer to withhold maintenance amounts from his or her paycheck and send them to the appropriate court agency. (Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 8.101.)
Factors That Influence Alimony in TX
The average amount payable as spousal maintenance in Texas after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”
To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in TX, the courts in TX takes into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:
- earning capacity of each spouse.
- the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
- the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
- how long the marriage lasted
- the needs of each spouse
- the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
- each party’s tax consequences
- the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
- each spouse’s health and age
- each party’s balance of hardships
- whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
- will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
- any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
- any other factors which the court wishes to consider
This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Lone Star State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.
How Alimony is Calculated in TX
The amount to be paid as spousal maintenance in Texas is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator
The paying spouse should pay no more than the lesser of the following two amounts as a general rule:
- $5,000 per month
- 20% of their typical monthly net income.
Importance of Using a Skilled Texas Spousal Support Attorney
If you’re getting a divorce in Texas and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support, your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. TX courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.
If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in Texas, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.
For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of TX divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and
representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.
FAQ About Texas Alimony Laws
Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal support laws in TX:
Can a Husband get Alimony in TX?
Who Qualifies for Alimony in Texas?
Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in TX, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details
How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in TX?
To understand how long alimony lasts in Texas, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.
However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.
Is Alimony Tax Deductible in Texas?
Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in Texas and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.
Is Alimony Mandatory in Lone Star State?
Although Texas statute does not recognize alimony as a right, this does not imply that it is illegal. While the right to alimony for either spouse is not regulated in Texas, it is permissible for parties to agree to include it as a provision in divorce agreements.
Can Alimony be increased in Texas?
Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:
- an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
- if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
- loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
- an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
- when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected
Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Maintenance in TX?
Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in Texas. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.
If it’s a Texas court-ordered spousal support that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in TX}.
How to Modify, Avoid, or End Spousal Support in TX?
In Lone Star State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:
- that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
- the spouse proves that he has no source of income
- the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
- if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living
Alimony Laws in all 50 States
A Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas
C California | Colorado | Connecticut
D-H Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii
I Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa
K-L Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana
M Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana
N Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota
O Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon
P-S Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota
T-U Tennessee | Texas | Utah
V-W Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming