The following is a summary of Texas alimony laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Texas Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Factors Used in Determining an Award of Maintenance (Alimony).

“Maintenance” means an award in a suit for dissolution of a marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. In a suit for dissolution of a marriage, the court may order maintenance for either spouse only if one of the following apply:

  1. The spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Title 4 and the offense occurred within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed, or while the suit is pending;
  2. The duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code, to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054, and the spouse seeking maintenance:
    1. Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
    2. Is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or
  3. Clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.054.

It is presumed that maintenance under section (2) is not warranted unless the spouse seeking maintenance has exercised diligence in:

  1. Seeking suitable employment; or
  2. Developing the necessary skills to become self-supporting during a period of separation and during the time the suit for dissolution of the marriage is pending.

This section does not apply to a spouse who is not able to satisfy these presumptions because the spouse has an incapacitating physical or mental disability or is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability.

A court that determines that a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance under this chapter shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments by considering all relevant factors, including:

  1. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse’s ability to meet the spouse’s needs independently;
  2. The education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of that education or training, and the feasibility of that education or training;
  3. The duration of the marriage;
  4. The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  5. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that spouse ’s personal needs and to provide periodic child support payments, if applicable, while meeting the personal needs of the spouse seeking maintenance;
  6. Acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
  7. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits, and the separate property of each spouse;
  8. The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  9. The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
  10. The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
  11. Marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  12. The efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling as provided by Chapter 304, Labor Code.

-From §8.001, §8.051, and §8.052, and §8.053 of the Texas Family Code.

Duration of Maintenance Order.

If a spouse seeking maintenance is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because the spouse has an incapacitating physical or mental disability or because the spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who has a physical or mental disability, the court may order maintenance for as long as the disability continues. Otherwise, a court:

  1. May not order maintenance that remains in effect for more than three years after the date of the order; and
  2. Shall limit the duration of a maintenance order to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to meet the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs by obtaining appropriate employment or developing an appropriate skill, unless the ability of the spouse to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs through employment is substantially or totally diminished because of:
    1. Physical or mental disability;
    2. Duties as the custodian of an infant or young child; or
    3. Another compelling impediment to gainful employment.

-From §8.054 of the Texas Family Code.

Amount of Maintenance.

A court may not order maintenance that requires an obligor to pay monthly more than the lesser of (a) $2,500 or (b) 20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.

The court shall set the amount that an obligor is required to pay in a maintenance order to provide for the minimum reasonable needs of the obligee, considering employment or property received in the dissolution of the marriage or otherwise owned by the obligee that contributes to the minimum reasonable needs of the obligee.

Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability compensation, social security benefits and disability benefits, and workers’ compensation benefits are excluded from maintenance.

-From §8.055 of the Texas Family Code.

Income Withholding Order.

In a proceeding in which periodic payments of spousal maintenance are ordered, modified, or enforced, the court may order that income be withheld from the disposable earnings of the obligor. An order or writ of withholding for spousal maintenance may be combined with an order or writ of withholding for child support only if the obligee has been appointed managing conservator of the child for whom the child support is owed and is the conservator with whom the child primarily resides.

-From §8.101 of the Texas Family Code.

Termination of Maintenance.

The obligation to pay future maintenance terminates on the death of either party or on the remarriage or cohabitation of the obligee.

-From §8.056 of the Texas Family Code.

 

This information has been summarized from the Texas statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Texas divorce statutes online here: Texas Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL ALIMONY LAWS.

GO TO ANOTHER DIVORCE ARTICLE.

 

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