If I Get Divorced in Dallas, Texas, Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

Divorce is never easy, but one of the trickiest and most emotional aspects of any divorce is dividing financial assets. When you are married to an individual for any great length of time, you work together to make your current lifestyle possible. For some, this means giving up a career entirely to help raise a family. For others, it means relocating to an entirely new part of the country where friends and family can only be reached by phone or email, if it means a better paying job for the working spouse. For others still, it means putting their own education on hold while their spouse pursues their educational goals first.

For many couples, this sort of give-and-take works well, as it allows both individuals to contribute to the relationship and family unit in a way that makes sense for the time being. However, when that same couple decides to part ways before the second spouse has a chance to pursue certain goals, all that sacrifice they made seems fruitless, as now they are left with no financial support, and no real job experience to list on their resume. Which leads to the big question: is that spouse entitled to spousal support?

Determining Alimony Eligibility in Texas

Alimony – or spousal maintenance, as it is known as in Texas – is additional money (outside of child support and any money divvied up in the divorce) paid to the non-working or lower-earning spouse post-divorce to support them until they can financially support themselves. In Texas, an individual must be eligible to qualify for spousal maintenance, and even then, they may only receive alimony temporarily. According to the Texas Family Code, Chapter 8, Subchapter B, Section 8.051, ELIGIBILITY FOR MAINTENANCE, whether or not you must provide your ex-spouse with post-divorce maintenance depends on the following:

Whether or not the spouse from whom maintenance is requested (you) was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, committed during the marriage against the other spouse or the other spouse's child and the offense occurred within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage is filed; or while the suit is pending;

  • The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her reasonable needs because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability;
  • The spouse has been married to the other spouse for ten or more years and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs; or
  • The spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.

How Much Alimony Will I Have to Pay, and for How Long?

If your ex-spouse meets the eligibility requirements, the Texas courts will then review a number of factors to determine how much alimony you must pay, and for how long. These factors include your ex-spouse’s educational background, the duration of your marriage, the age of the requesting spouse, their employment history, their contributions to the household during the marriage, and their previous and current efforts to find gainful employment for themselves. In some instances – even if your ex-spouse meets the eligibility requirements – the courts may deem it unnecessary for you to pay alimony.

However, if the Texas courts determine that spousal maintenance is necessary, you will be looking at paying the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of your gross monthly income on a monthly basis.

According to Sec. 8.054. DURATION OF MAINTENANCE ORDER of the Texas Family Code, if the courts do decide to award spousal maintenance to the lesser-earning spouse, spousal maintenance can last anywhere from five to 10 years, depending on how long the marriage lasted. However, if either scenarios 2(a), 2(b), or 2(c) are applicable, spousal maintenance can last indefinitely, so long as the eligibility criteria continue to exist.

Getting Legal Help

In Texas, the only cases in which alimony is guaranteed are those in which one spouse cannot find gainful employment due to a physical or mental disability, or because of a child who needs round-the-clock care. If your ex-spouse requested spousal maintenance as a stipulation in the divorce, but neither you nor they meet any of the requirements mentioned in Chapter 8, Subchapter B of the Texas Family Code, it would be in your best interest to hire a Dallas, Texas family law attorney to help you finalize your divorce in as painless and as inexpensive way as possible.

Divorce is never easy, but at the Clark Law Group, we try to make it as easy on you as possible, by providing support at every turn – from drawing up the divorce papers, to handling alimony disputes, to helping you and your ex-spouse come up with the best parenting plan for you and your children. If you are going through a tough divorce, contact our divorce attorneys at (214) 438-1152 or online today.

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