Let’s face it; divorcing a spouse, no mater the length of the marriage, is a difficult time. It is a process that causes major changes. Some of these changes impact the spouses financially. One might have to pay a mortgage on their own while the other might have to go back to school or obtain training to get a better paying job. Because the financial disparities between spouses can be vast, requesting spousal maintenance is common in divorces in Texas and elsewhere.

What are the rules in Texas surrounding spousal maintenance, also known as alimony? When a spouse seeks spousal maintenance, this typically means that he or she cannot support their minimum reasonable needs. One of two conditions must apply when requesting spousal maintenance in Texas. First, the paying spouse was convicted of or received a deferred adjudication of a family violence act that was either committed during the marriage but no more than two years before divorce was filed for or during the pending divorce.

The second condition is when a spouse is seeking spousal maintenance because he or she is unable to earn a sufficient income to support him or herself. This must be because of a physical or mental disability, the responsibility to care for a child of the marriage who requires exceptional care due to a physical or mental disability or the marriage lasted 10 or more years.

If one of these two conditions are met, the court will determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, basing their decision of various factors of the marriage. With regards to the amount, the court will award the lesser of the two: $5,000 a month or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. With regards to length, it could last up to five years if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the paying spouse was abusive, or if the marriage lasted 10 to 20 years. If the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years, spousal maintenance could last for up to seven years. Spousal maintenance could last for up to 10 years if the marriage lasted more than 30 years. Finally, spousal maintenance could be indefinite if the petitioning spouse or their dependent child is disabled.

Receiving spousal maintenance payments can be necessary and essential for some divorcing spouses. Therefore, it is important to understand the laws surrounding this divorce issues. This can help you establish eligibility and provide you with the information to protect your rights and interests.

Source: Statutes.legis.state.tx.us, “Sec. 8.001,” accessed April 15, 2018