Alimony in Texas…What Does the Law Say?

Many Texans do not like the idea of spousal support. It is often considered burdensome by those who are required to pay it, and overall, it’s another one of family law’s emotionally charged subjects. In Texas, alimony as it is understood as a legal term in other states, does not exist.

Spousal Support and Alimony In Texas LawsTexas Alimony Laws

Texas Family Law has three spousal payments that are similar to the concept of alimony. They include:

  • Contractual alimony
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Temporary spousal support

All these spousal payments are called spousal maintenance or spousal support in Texas. Spousal maintenance is all about maintaining the standards of living that the couple enjoyed in the marriage after the divorce.

Contractual Alimony

When a spouse agrees to pay the other spouse after the divorce based on an agreement they both agreed to, it is referred to as contractual alimony.  The spouse receiving the payments must claim those payments as income because of tax purposes.

The paying spouse can deduct these payments from their income also for tax purposes. These agreements are fairly common in divorces in Texas but they are not a requirement for a divorce to be finalized.

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Spousal Maintenance

A court can award payments to a spouse for a brief time period under very limited circumstances. This is what is called spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance orders can be issued by the court even if the couple cannot agree on contractual alimony. Another reason why a court can award it to a spouse is if that spouse cannot support themselves because of mental or physical disability.  It may also be awarded to a spouse that cannot pay their necessary monthly bills or is taking care of a child with special needs. However, the court will restrict the period of time within which the payments are to be made. Spousal maintenance can be enforced in situations where the paying spouse does not obey the orders of the court.

Am I Eligible for Spousal Maintenance?

Texas courts cannot force spouses to agree on spousal maintenance.  They can only make a decision about this if the obligee makes a request for spousal maintenance.  If the two parties decide to create an agreement for spousal support, the court may grant it even if there is no ground for that support.  However, for someone to request for spousal support, they must first be eligible. For example, the party requesting the support must not have won the family home, business, or any other asset that should reasonably support them. Texas courts will not permit spousal support unless both spouses agree to a premade plan.

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support orders are often issued by the court after a Temporary Orders Hearing. These orders are supposed to make it easier for the non-paying spouse to pay the necessary monthly expenses as the divorce is pending.  The reason for this is that as the divorce is pending the two couples may end up living in separate households. In this situation, the spouse with more assets and resources will be ordered to pay temporary spousal support until the divorce is finalized.  You will need an experienced family law attorney to help you get the amount of support that you need.