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Do You Always Have to Pay Alimony in Texas?

 Posted on November 20, 2023 in Divorce

North Texas family lawyerSpousal maintenance, commonly called alimony, is not an automatic requirement in divorce cases. Whether one spouse must pay ongoing financial support to the other depends on certain circumstances. You should be aware of alimony laws and when alimony may or may not be awarded. A Texas lawyer can help you so you know exactly what to expect.

Texas Alimony Basics

Texas views marriage as each spouse being self-sufficient unless proven otherwise. Alimony is only intended to provide temporary assistance until an economically disadvantaged spouse can become independent after divorce. Payments are not guaranteed.

The court can order alimony if one spouse clearly shows they cannot independently provide for their minimum reasonable needs, based on factors like:

  • Insufficient earning ability due to age, lack of education and training, health issues, or other barriers
  • Inability to work outside the home after dedicating many years to caring for a disabled child or other disabled family member
  • Lacking adequate property, financial resources, or other assets awarded to them in the divorce

Short-Term Spousal Maintenance

If a spouse meets the eligibility requirements above, they may be awarded alimony for a limited duration of up to five years. Texas caps this type of temporary “rehabilitation” maintenance. The payments cannot be modified later because what is ordered is final.

In determining the amount and length, judges consider factors like the unemployed spouse’s education plan and a reasonable timeline to enter and re-enter the workforce. They also look at the paying spouse’s ability to pay without causing undue hardship.

Post-Divorce Maintenance

In more limited circumstances involving domestic abuse or when the recipient spouse has an ongoing disability, the court may order longer post-divorce maintenance exceeding five years. This spousal support can continue for up to ten years or until the recipient remarries.

Unlike short-term alimony, the amount of post-divorce maintenance can potentially be modified later if there are significant changes in circumstances. There is a higher bar to qualify for ongoing post-divorce spousal support.

When Alimony Is Not Awarded

Texas judges have discretion when ordering alimony. It will likely be denied in situations where:

  • Both spouses are physically able to work and be self-supporting
  • The marriage was short-term
  • The potential recipient’s spouse committed adultery
  • The potential recipient was convicted of family violence against the paying spouse
  • Paying alimony would cause “undue financial hardship “for the paying spouse

Contact a North Texas Family Law Attorney

Navigating Texas spousal maintenance laws can be complex. Do not assume you will absolutely have to pay alimony or that you are guaranteed to receive alimony. An experienced Frisco, TX divorce lawyer carefully examines the specific details of your situation to strategize around alimony. With proper legal guidance, you may be able to challenge or minimize any proposed support obligations. Call Pfister Family Law at 972-954-6455 for a private consultation.

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