Compared to other states, Texas is especially strict about when either party to a divorce can begin receiving support payments from their former spouse after their marriage is dissolved. Local courts typically only grant a request for spousal support in Texas under limited circumstances, and numerous factors can impact how much alimony is awarded as well as how long it will be paid. With a little advanced knowledge, you could have a much easier time understanding how alimony is awarded and effectively pursuing a mutually agreeable outcome.

When Do Courts Order Spousal Support in Texas?

According to Texas Family Code §8.051, there are two eligibility requirements for spousal maintenance in Texas. First, the petitioning party must be left with so little property after divorce that they cannot reasonably meet their own basic needs. Second, any one or more of the following circumstances must also apply:

  • The petitioner has a physical or mental disability that will prevent them from earning enough income to support themselves after divorce.
  • The petitioner has custody of a child with a physical or mental disability, and providing the requisite degree of care and/or supervision for that child precludes the petitioner from earning enough income to meet basic needs.
  • After a marriage of at least 10 years, the petitioner is incapable of becoming self-supporting at any point in the foreseeable future.
  • The prospective payor was convicted of domestic violence against the petitioner or any of their children within the two years preceding the divorce filing, or between the initial filing date and the conclusion of the divorce case.

Furthermore, TX Fam. Code §8.053 presumes that spousal support is not necessary unless the petitioning party proves they made good-faith efforts to earn enough income or gain new education and/or training to become self-supporting.

Factors that Can Influence Maintenance Awards

If a judge decides that maintenance is warranted, TX Fam. Code §8.052 states that they must account for the following factors when deciding the value and duration of support payments:

  • The ability of the payor to support themselves and their former spouse in addition to covering other obligations like child support
  • The length of the marriage
  • Either party’s separate property
  • The degree to which either spouse contributed to the other’s education or career, as well as to the maintenance of the marital home
  • The ability of either spouse to continue earning a living for themselves based on age, personal health, education, and work history
  • Any history of misconduct by either spouse, such as destruction of community property, adultery, cruelty, or domestic abuse

Generally, the length of a Texas spousal support order ranges from five to 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage or a history of domestic violence by the paying spouse. However, for things like physical or mental disability, courts can order support payments to continue until the conditions justifying them no longer exist. Either way, TX Fam. Code §8.055 limits the maximum value of spousal support payments to 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, or $5,000 per month.

Spousal Support Requires a Texas Attorney

Given the strict limitations on spousal support orders imposed by state law, we do not incorporate spousal support in our DIY divorce kit.