How a court determines alimony in Texas is basically a two-step process with many factors to consider along the way. The first step is to determine whether the spouse seeking alimony -- called spousal maintenance -- is eligible to receive it. Then, after eligibility is established, the second step is to decide how much support will be paid and for how long.
Whether you're an obligee (a spouse who receives alimony) or an obligor (a spouse who pays), it is important to ensure that your legal rights and finances are protected. Here let's take a few moments to discuss the factors Texas courts consider prior to ordering spousal maintenance.
Factors Determining Eligibility
In deciding whether you're eligible for alimony, the first question the court will ask is, "Do you have sufficient property to provide for your basic needs?" The court may also order spousal support if any of the following situations apply:
- The spouse being asked for alimony was convicted of a family violence crime involving the other spouse or the other spouse's child.
- The parties were married for 10 years or more, and the spouse seeking alimony doesn't earn enough income to provide for his or her basic needs.
- The spouse seeking maintenance lives with an incapacitating mental or physical disability.
- The spouse seeking alimony has custody of a child of the marriage who requires considerable care and supervision as a result of the spouse's disability.
Factors Determining the Amount to Be Paid and for How Long
A long list of possible factors has to be considered when calculating alimony payments. For example, what are the age, earning ability and employment history of the spouse seeking alimony? Will that spouse need additional education or training in order to earn sufficient income?
Other questions to ask include:
- Did either spouse conceal, excessively spend or otherwise fraudulently dispose of community property?
- Would the proposed amount of alimony affect the paying spouse's ability to make child support payments?
- Did one spouse contribute to the other's education or increased earning capacity during the course of the marriage?
- Did either spouse bring significant property to the marriage?
- How long did the marriage last?
- Did one spouse contribute more to the marriage as a homemaker?
- Was there marital misconduct such as domestic violence, cruel treatment or adultery?
- What is the emotional and physical condition of the spouse seeking alimony?
Negotiating for the Right Outcome
Really, to issue a fair court order for alimony, the court will need a comprehensive picture of the marriage, each spouse's financial situation after the divorce, and any relevant circumstances such as disability or child custody arrangements.
At Nix | Poet, we negotiate divorce agreements on behalf of clients throughout North Texas. Our attorneys are particularly skilled at handling property division and alimony issues related to the division of complex estates. To learn more about our comprehensive approach, please visit our family law overview.