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Alimony in Texas: Vision and Reality

Posted on in Spousal Support

Texas alimony attorney, Texas high asset divorce lawyer, Texas complex litigation attorney, When it first took effect in very limited form in 1997, conventional wisdom held that the spousal support law would be gradually expanded until Texas joined the majority of the other states which, at the time, routinely included alimony payments in their high-asset divorce decrees. In many cases, these payments were designed to permanently equalize the standard of living between the ex-spouses, meaning that regular monthly payments continued for many years after the divorce was final, or perhaps even permanently.

But, in the past 20 years, Section 8 of the Family Code has only been broadened once. And, given the alimony rollbacks taking place in various states, the law may not be expanded again anytime soon. So, although some spouses are entitled to some additional support in some circumstances, the scope of Section 8 has probably not fulfilled the vision of its original drafters, and given the current political and economic climate, the law may never reach that level.


Spousal support is a two-step process in Texas. First, the requesting spouse must first overcome the presumption in Section 8.053 that maintenance is improper. To overcome that presumption, the requesting spouses must prove that they exercised due diligence (tried hard) to earn sufficient income or develop sufficient skills to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.

Next, the requesting spouses must establish eligibility under Section 8.051. There are four categories:

  • Victim of family violence within the last two years;
  • An "incapacitating physical or mental disability" which makes it impossible for the requesting spouses to support themselves;
  • A ten-plus year marriage coupled with an inability to support themselves; or
  • Custody of a disabled child which makes it impossible for the requesting spouses to meet their minimum reasonable needs.

The third category, marriage of at least 10 years and insufficient income, is probably the most commonly-used category in high net worth divorces.

Amount and Duration of Payments

There is a legal cap in Section 8.054(2), which states that unless there is a permanent disability, payments may only continue for "the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs." There is also a mathematical cap on the amount ($5,000 per month or 20 percent of the obligor's gross income, whichever is less) and duration (a period of years based on the length of the marriage).

To determine the actual amount, the court may consider "all relevant factors," including fault in the breakup of the marriage, the obligee spouse's need, and the obligor spouse's ability to pay.

Alimony in Texas is largely intended to help spouses start new lives. For prompt assistance in this area, contact an aggressive Willamson County high asset divorce attorney. Call Powers and Kerr, PLLC at 512.610.6199 today. Mr. Powers is a Board Certified family law expert.



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