How The Length of Your Marriage Can Affect the Outcome of Your Texas Divorce

Some marriages only last for a few short years, after which time each party is likely still able to become financially independent. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the couples that have been together for 20 plus years—couples that have raised children together, bought and sold property together, and even gone on joint business ventures together. This latter set of individuals are much more likely to be dependent on one another—especially if one individual was responsible for bringing home the money, and the other was responsible for raising the children and taking care of the home.

When a couple that has been together for a significant amount of time goes through a divorce, the judge is much more likely to consider the stay-at-home parent’s sacrifices for the marriage and to assess the likelihood that he or she will find gainful employment post divorce. If the judge determines that there is no way the stay-at-home spouse will ever be truly self-sufficient, he or she is more likely to proceed with property division and alimony allocation differently than had the divorcing couple only been married for a short amount of time. After all, marriage is an economic partnership just as much as it is a romantic one, and without the sacrifices of one individual, the gains of the other would not have been possible.

How the Length of Your Marriage Affects Alimony

In Texas, alimony is awarded to the lesser earning spouse if the couple has been married for more than ten years, and if the lesser earning spouse is incapable of earning a sufficient income to provide for his or her own minimum reasonable needs (Texas Family Code, Sec. 8.051). The courts will also consider the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance, as well as the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse (Sec. 8.052).

In a short term marriage, the judge may award the lesser earning spouse temporary alimony—also known as rehabilitative alimony—the purpose of which is to allow the lesser earning spouse enough time to gain adequate training to find a good paying job. However, in the divorce proceedings of a long term marriage, the judge may award permanent or periodic alimony payments. These payments are made regularly, typically monthly, and can last indefinitely. Factors that may determine that permanent alimony is necessary include age, the length of the marriage, the education of the lesser earning spouse, and the income and earning potential of each spouse. The courts will also consider the standard of living to which the lesser earning spouse became accustomed to during the marriage.

Property Division

Though Texas is a community property state – meaning that each judge leads each divorce hearing with the presumption that all property is marital property, and therefore subject to equal distribution – the judges are more likely to favor the lesser earning spouse of a long term marriage in a Texas divorce, and not grant much leeway to the higher earning spouse in regards to property and investments.

Contact a Dallas, Texas Divorce Attorney

At the Clark Law Group, we try to help our clients achieve a fair and amicable divorce outcome whenever possible. If you are going through a rough divorce after over ten years of marriage, and if you are unsure of how you are going to get back on your feet once the divorce is finalized, our divorce attorneys can help you negotiate the divorce settlement you deserve. To schedule a consultation with our Dallas divorce lawyer today, contact our family law firm at (469) 906-2266 or online.

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