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I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Alimony is not automatic in Texas, but rather is up to the discretion of the judge whether or not to grant it.
Eligibility. In September 2011 Texas substantially changed the eligibility rules for court ordered spousal maintenance. Under the new law the spouse must first prove that after divorce (meaning after the division of assets and liabilities) there will not be enough property (including separate property) to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs (which usually means the spouse’s monthly expenses). After proving that, the spouse must also prove at least one of the following:
- the marriage has been for ten years or longer and the spouse made diligent efforts to either earn sufficient income or to develop necessary skills while the divorce is pending to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs; or
- the other spouse has committed family violence; or
- the requesting spouse has an incapacitating disability; or
- a child of the marriage (of any age) has a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse who cares for and supervises the child from earning sufficient income.
If the judge finds a spouse is eligible for court ordered spousal maintenance, the judge has to decide how much to order and for how long. In most cases, the upper limit of the amount is the difference between the spouse’s monthly expenses and that spouse’s income, but that does not end the question. Determining the amount is not a simple math equation. By law, the judge must also consider:
- each spouse’s financial resources after divorce (including separate property);
- how paying child support or spousal maintenance affects both spouses’ ability to pay their bills;
- one spouse’s contribution to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power;
- the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the requesting spouse;
- each spouse’s education and employment skills and how long it would take for the spouse asking for maintenance to get education or training;
- whether either spouse inappropriately spent community funds or disposed of community property during marriage (also called “fraud on the community”);
- homemaker contributions;
- marital misconduct of either spouse; and
- family violence.
Maximum Court Ordered Spousal Maintenance in Texas. The cap on court ordered spousal maintenance (alimony) in Texas is set by statute. The amount of spousal maintenance the judge orders a spouse to pay involuntarily cannot be more than $5000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is lower.
The length of the alimony would be a maximum of 5 years if you've been married at least 10 years. It's far more likely that you'd be granted alimony during the pendency of the divorce, but is also possible that you'd be eligible to get alimony after the divorce is final.
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