Although Texas does not recognize the term “alimony,” spousal support and maintenance vary under Texas law. Spousal support is voluntary and generally agreed upon by the divorcing parties in their divorce settlement. Alternatively, spousal maintenance is court-ordered and decided on a case-by-case basis.
In many marriages, one spouse may be a higher earner than the other, while their spouse works part-time or handles household duties and children. At Moffett Law Firm, we understand that after a divorce, one party may not be financially able to get the career or educational resources to start earning enough to cover their expenses. We blend empathy and expertise into our litigation and mediation strategies so you may achieve your legal goals. In Texas, you may be awarded spousal maintenance or divorcing parties may agree to spousal support or “contractual alimony” under specific circumstances.
Differences Between Alimony and Spousal Support in Texas
Generally, people use alimony and spousal support interchangeably to refer to a divorcing spouse’s legal obligation to provide monetary assistance to the other spouse. Although Texas law does not recognize supporting a spouse indefinitely, Texas law does recognize periodic payments between divorcing spouses to help a spouse become self-supporting. Rather than referring to these payments as “alimony,” Texas classifies them as “spousal maintenance.”
Spousal support is a contractual obligation decided by both parties in divorce settlements, whether voluntary or through compulsory mediation. Once divorcing spouses reach an agreement, they submit it to a judge to enter into the final divorce decree. The final divorce decree is a legally binding contract, so spouses must adhere to the terms they signed.
One distinct difference between spousal maintenance and spousal support is that the spouses can come up with their own terms, such as the amount and the duration of payments, including indefinitely, whereas court-ordered spousal maintenance is limited.
How to Qualify for Spousal Maintenance in Texas
According to Texas Family Code 8.051, to qualify for spousal maintenance, you must meet specific requirements, including the following:
- The obligor spouse has been convicted of a family violence crime against the obligee spouse within two years before divorce filings or while the divorce is pending.
- The marriage lasted for at least ten years, and the obligee lacks sufficient income to provide for their reasonable needs or is either disabled, is the primary caretaker of a disabled child, or lacks the earning ability to provide for their reasonable needs.
- The divorcing parties can agree that spousal maintenance is paid for a specific period.
- If the obligee is a sponsored immigrant.
The court may look at various factors to determine if a spouse lacks the earning ability to provide for their reasonable needs, such as financial resources, education and employment skills, health, age, and other relevant information.
Speak With the Highly Experienced Spousal Support Lawyers at Moffett Law Firm
Spousal support and spousal maintenance laws can be confusing to navigate without the help of an experienced divorce lawyer. At Moffett Law Firm, we understand the emotional and financial challenges of Texas divorce. With over 30 years of experience, we provide clients with personalized attention and always put our clients’ best interests first. We have a track record of success and trusted legal advocacy in mediation and litigation.