A couple facing divorce proceedings must consider the topic of alimony when meeting with their divorce lawyer, as there are occasions when one spouse will be required to pay support to another. Although there is a common viewpoint that alimony is only awarded in Texas when there is a need, this is not always true. There are many factors used to determine whether or not a spouse should receive alimony, and is not something both spouses may agree with. Alimony can be a very emotional and challenging topic in a divorce. Therefore, a couple should always work with an experienced divorce attorney to reach the most amicable agreement regarding the dissolution of their marriage.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony, which in the state of Texas is also called “temporary spousal maintenance,” is a temporary monthly support payment one spouse makes to another. Generally, the purpose of alimony is to help a spouse without the means to support themselves after a divorce to meet their living expenses. This allows that spouse time to become self-sufficient. Alimony is money paid outside the division of any marital assets. It is paid for a court-determined period of time, in an amount the court deems to be fair under each individual circumstance.
Requesting and Qualifying for Alimony
Spouses can agree that no alimony is necessary, which is what divorce attorneys say is preferable in the State of Texas. When a spouse seeks support from the other, it can either be agreed upon ahead of time or the court can be asked to order support. If one spouse requests court-ordered alimony, they must prove they are unable to provide for themselves despite any marital assets. They must also show that reasonable effort has been made to become self-sufficient. This includes trying to find employment or acquiring new skills necessary to become employed.
Divorce lawyers assert that court-ordered alimony is awarded when one spouse does not have the means to support themselves, as well as under certain other circumstances. These circumstances include the following:
- Acts of violence against a spouse or children.
- A disability that makes working impossible.
- A marriage of ten or more years, combined with the inability to earn a reasonable wage.
- Having custody of a special needs child born during the marriage, preventing that spouse from earning enough income to support themselves.
Other Factors Used In Determining Alimony
Along with the above requirements, the court also considers things such as each spouse’s income, monetary resources, education, skills, and their ability to provide for themselves. The requesting spouse’s age, physical and mental health, past job history, and ability to maintain a job is also considered, as well as their expenses and any children being raised. In addition, the petitioning spouse’s spending habits, personal habits, past contributions to the marriage, education of the other spouse, and other important gauges of character and investment in the marriage are reviewed.
A determination for court ordered alimony, and how much a spouse will pay, is a complex part of divorce that some couples must face. For the most fair decision that protects each party’s interests, a spouse who is considering a request for alimony from the Texas family court should first discuss their circumstances with an experienced divorce lawyer. An experienced divorce attorney can help clients prove an actual need for spousal maintenance and present a positive image – both of which are essential to gain the court’s approval.
Garza & Elizondo, LLP, Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles, Suite 6 00
Brownsville TX 78520