Alimony & You in Texas
The details about alimony (spousal maintenance) in Texas
The law regarding alimony in Texas is very rigid and clear and only under very specific circumstances will alimony be awarded. Your San Antonio divorce lawyer is the best person to advise you as to whether you are likely to receive alimony payments as part of your divorce, but until you meet with your lawyer, here is information that will help you get a clearer picture of whether you will be receiving alimony, or "spousal maintenance", as it is legally referred to in Texas.
In Texas you can only apply for alimony if either of the following situations is relevant to your divorce:
- Your spouse committed and was convicted of a crime of family violence within the two years leading up to your filing for divorce or during your divorce.
- You marriage lasted 10 or more years and you don't have the resources to meet your minimum living requirements
- You are unable to support yourself due to a physical or mental disability
- You are parent to a child or children who have physical or mental disabilities
- You lack the ability to hold a job and earn a living to support your minimum needs.
As you can see, these requirements really narrow the number of divorces that would have a spouse be eligible for spousal maintenance. But a good San Antonio divorce attorney, well-versed and experienced in Texas family law, including the San Antonio divorce lawyer you have selected, will be able to inform you as to your eligibility.
It is also important to note that even if you do meet the above requirements, there are still more criteria that you will need to meet before being granted spousal maintenance in Texas.
What you will likely be told during a meeting with your San Antonio divorce attorney is that the family law court will then consider all of the following points when deciding your level of alimony:
- Your financial resources (including any awarded in your divorce)
- Education and employment skills of both you and your spouse
- The feasibility of your being retrained or educated, and how long it would take
- The length of your marriage
- Your earning ability, in conjunction with your age
- Your physical and psychological health
- Your spouse's financial needs, in relation to his/her income and costs including child support payments etc
- Any dishonesty on the part of either spouse to conceal or dispose of community property
- The financial resources of both partners, including medical, retirement, insurance and other benefits
- Both spouses separate property
- The increased level of education and earning power of your spouse that you contributed to during your marriage
- Property that was brought into your marriage by either spouse
- Homemaker contributions made by either spouse
- Misconduct by either party during the marriage
- Your willingness to seek employment counseling
The Collaborative Law Approach
If you seek out a San Antonio divorce attorney who has experience in collaborative law, and proceed with spousal maintenance discussions in a collaborative law setting, you may find a greater willingness on the part of your spouse to support you after the termination of your marriage. Many San Antonio divorce lawyers are turning to a collaborative approach to divorce; where both parties to the divorce and their divorce attorneys physically come together to work out the details of the divorce.
Collaborative divorce is gaining popularity as it does seem to result in more amicable divorce settlements. Higdon, Hardy, and Zuflacht are San Antonio collaborative law specialists and can talk to you more about this option if you are interested. If you have issues like spousal maintenance to factor into your divorce settlement, a collaborative approach is highly recommended.
Even though there are many attorneys who specialize in collaborative law, using a collaborative law attorney does not guarantee spousal maintenance will be awarded. And even if it is, there are limits on what you will receive. Texas family law allows for alimony payments to continue for no more than three years and your maximum monthly payment will be $2,500 or 20% of your spouse's average monthly gross income, whichever is less. Your lawyer will tell you that if your spouse dies during the period of your alimony, your payments come to an end. Likewise, if you remarry or are living with another person in a permanent relationship, the court will decide you have forfeited your rights to alimony.
There are other nuances of spousal maintenance law in Texas that make it important to seek out a San Antonio divorce lawyer who can guide you in this area. Higdon, Hardy, and Zuflacht are San Antonio family law attorneys who can guide you in your divorce proceedings, and will work with you to decide whether it is in your best interest to seek an alimony settlement.