If you are in the process of getting divorced, one question that might arise regards paying alimony. In Texas, alimony is known as “spousal maintenance” and it is allowed in several different situations. This spousal maintenance is a court ordered payment that one spouse pays another following a divorce in the event that one spouse is financially unable to meet their basic needs.

Whether you believe you are entitled to alimony payments, or are wondering whether you will be required to pay alimony, here are five things you should know about alimony in Texas.

  1. It’s decided on a case-by-case basis. Typically, the threshold for spousal maintenance in cases not involving family violence is ten years. If a marriage gets to the ten-mark, Texas allows spousal maintenance to be paid. One of the ways spousal maintenance can be awarded is if the parties agree to spousal maintenance for a time — which, if mutually agreed upon, can be one of the best ways to resolve any concerns around this issue. 
  2. Many factors can affect alimony payments. If there’s an incident of family violence, or if there’s a concern regarding “each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently,” spousal maintenance could come into play. In the latter case, it’s contingent on how long the couple was married, as well as what each spouse was doing workwise prior to the divorce
  3. Sponsored immigrants can receive it. If a spouse is a sponsored immigrant, the court can order the other spouse to pay the immigrant spouse 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines in some situations until the immigrant spouse becomes a U.S. citizen.  
  4. It has limits. Spousal maintenance is typically limited to either $5,000 or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. The length of the payments depends on the length of the marriage, however the Texas Family Code states that the duration should be the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse receiving payments to meet their minimum reasonable needs. 
  5. Women can pay it. There is a misconception that women don’t pay spousal support. However, the determination of who pays spousal maintenance depends in part on each spouse’s ability to provide for their minimum reasonable needs independently, and not the gender of the spouse. 

At Sandoval Law Firm we understand the stress of dealing with divorce, child custody and domestic violence. Our firm consists of founding attorney Raul Sandoval Jr. and a dedicated support staff. Mr. Sandoval earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Since that time, he has been practicing family law in the Austin area, as well as teaching seminars, classes and other forms of professional development.