Temporary Spousal Support

While you are married in Texas, you and your spouse are expected to provide for each other. While a divorce is pending, Texas courts will usually order the spouse with higher income to provide support payments to the spouse with lower income. These payments, known as temporary alimony, will end once the divorce is final or until further order by the court.

Understanding Alimony/Spousal Support

Every two years for as long as I have been a lawyer, Texas lawmakers have been presented with proposals to provide post-divorce alimony. However, these were regularly voted down by legislators. A few years ago, legislators did provide a version of post-divorce alimony termed spousal maintenance.

Spousal maintenance in Texas, or post-divorce support, is nothing like alimony in other states. Texas spousal maintenance was originally enacted as an anti-welfare statute. It provides minimal payments for a limited time to help a nonworking spouse get trained and into the workforce to earn enough money to cover his or her minimum needs.

Texas Alimony Requirements

To receive spousal maintenance in Texas, you must have been married for at least 10 years, unless you are disabled or have a serious health problem that makes you unable to work.

Spousal maintenance is capped at $2,500 a month for a maximum period of three years. This is the maximum amount of money and time that can be awarded — you are not guaranteed this amount. Spousal maintenance can be reduced or eliminated if the person receiving maintenance gets even a minimum-wage job.

Contractual Alimony

There may be times when the higher-income spouse may agree to provide something called contractual alimony to the other spouse. This may be done for tax reasons or in exchange for more flexibility on another issue, such as child visitation. In that instance, as is true with alimony or maintenance, the contractual alimony payment is deductible by the party paying it and taxable income to the party receiving it.

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