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When navigating the turbulent waters of divorce, one of the questions that often arise is related to alimony, also known in Texas as “spousal maintenance.” Will you have to pay it? Can you receive it? Here’s what you need to know, based on Texas law.

What is Alimony or Spousal Maintenance?


Alimony, or spousal maintenance in Texas, is a financial support that one spouse may be required to pay to the other after a divorce. This is to ensure that a spouse who might not have the financial independence or the means to support themselves post-divorce is not left in dire straits.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Maintenance in Texas?


To be eligible for spousal maintenance, the requesting spouse must first prove that they lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Once this is established, one of the following criteria should also be met:

  1. The other spouse has been convicted of family violence within two years of the date the divorce was filed or while the divorce is pending.
  2. The marriage lasted 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse cannot earn sufficient income to meet basic needs.
  3. The requesting spouse has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from earning a sufficient income.
  4. The requesting spouse is the custodian of a child (from the marriage) who requires special supervision or care due to a physical or mental disability, preventing the spouse from earning sufficient income.

How Much Can Be Awarded?


There are caps on the amount of maintenance that can be awarded. Generally, spousal maintenance cannot exceed the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income.

For How Long Will Spousal Maintenance Last?


The duration of spousal maintenance in Texas is based on the length of the marriage and the reason for the maintenance. For example:

  • For marriages lasting 10 to 20 years or thereabouts, maintenance may not last for more than five years.
  • For marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years, the duration might be up to 7 years.
  • For marriages that lasted 30 years or more, maintenance may be up to 10 years.

However, if the maintenance is due to a spouse’s or child’s disability, it can continue as long as the disability persists.

Can Spousal Maintenance be Modified?


Yes. Under Texas law, either party can request a modification to the spousal maintenance order if there’s a material and substantial change in circumstances. This could be due to job loss, a significant change in income, or other significant life events.


Understanding alimony or spousal maintenance in Texas can be complex, and while this article provides a general overview, individual circumstances may vary. If you’re considering a divorce in Texas and have questions about spousal maintenance, it’s essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Dana Baker, Esq.

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