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Travis County Divorce LawyerIn many Texas high asset divorces, one spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse spousal support, also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. The purpose of spousal support is to enable the receiving spouse to be able to maintain a similar standard of living to the one they had while married. This is especially important in marriages where that spouse chose to leave their career to take care of the couple’s children. If they suddenly did not have that financial support, it could create great financial hardships for them. One question that many receiving spouses ask is whether they should accept their spousal support in monthly payments or whether they should request it all in one lump sum.

Qualifying for Spousal Support in Texas

There are some factors that must be met in order for the court to order spousal support payments. If the couple had a prenuptial agreement that stipulated that alimony would be paid in the event of a divorce, then that stipulation should be ordered.

If the couple did not have a prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement, then the court will look at the following:


TX divorce lawyerIn Texas, spousal support is an option in relatively few divorces. State law puts substantial limits on the types of circumstances in which maintenance is warranted, and when the court does include maintenance in a divorce order, it is usually only for a limited time. Both paying and receiving spouses can better prepare for the divorce and its aftermath by understanding when spousal support payments may terminate.

Texas Spousal Maintenance Order Durations

Texas courts will determine the specific duration of maintenance according to the facts of each individual case, but there are maximum cut-offs in place based on the length of the marriage and the reason why spousal support was ordered. For example:

  • There is a maximum five-year duration when the marriage lasted between 10 and 20 years. If the receiving spouse is a victim of spousal abuse, they can receive maintenance for up to five years even if the marriage lasted less than 10 years.
  • There is a maximum seven-year duration when the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years.
  • There is a maximum 10-year duration when the marriage lasted 30 years or more.

However, these limits do not apply when maintenance is ordered because the receiving spouse has a disability or is caring for a child with a disability. In these cases, maintenance may continue indefinitely, or until the receiving spouse no longer needs it to provide for their needs.


TX alimony lawyerSpouses who are going through the divorce process will need to address multiple different types of legal and financial issues. The laws surrounding divorce can be complicated, but by working with an experienced attorney, a person can gain a full understanding of their rights and obligations, and they can determine the best ways to achieve their goals. Spousal support, which is commonly known as alimony and referred to as spousal maintenance in Texas law, is one issue that spouses will often have questions about. These questions may include:

When Is a Person Eligible to Receive Spousal Support?

Typically, a spouse will only be able to receive maintenance if they do not own enough assets, including marital property awarded to them during their divorce and separate property owned independently of the other spouse, to reasonably provide for their minimal ongoing needs. If this is the case, spousal support may be awarded in the following situations:

  • The couple was married for at least 10 years, and the spouse who is asking for support is currently unable to earn a sufficient level of income to provide for their needs.
  • The spouse who is asking for support has a physical or mental disability that has caused them to be unable to earn a sufficient level of income.
  • The spouse who is asking for support is the custodial parent of a child that has a physical or mental disability, and providing care for the child has caused the spouse to be unable to earn a sufficient level of income to meet their needs.
  • The spouse who would be paying support was convicted of a family violence offense within two years before the divorce petition was filed or during the course of the divorce case.

As part of their divorce settlement, spouses may also agree that one party will pay spousal support to the other. This is known as contractual alimony.


TX divorce lawyerFinancial issues are likely to be a concern for anyone who is splitting up with their partner. In many high asset divorce cases, one spouse earns the majority of the family’s income, and the other spouse may be unable to make enough money to provide for their needs on their own. A spouse may ask for spousal support, which is also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, to be paid, giving them the means to pay for their ongoing expenses. However, spousal support is not awarded in every case, and spouses should be sure to understand how Texas’ divorce laws will apply in their situation.

When Is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?

The purpose of spousal support is to provide for the needs of a spouse who is unable to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs. Typically, a spouse will be eligible to receive spousal maintenance if the parties have been married for at least 10 years, and the spouse who is seeking spousal support does not currently have the means to support themselves. This will allow a spouse to receive ongoing support payments if they did not work during their marriage or relied primarily on their partner’s income to meet the family’s needs.

While spousal maintenance is rarer in marriages of less than 10 years, there are some situations where it may be awarded. These include cases where a spouse has a physical or mental disability that causes them to be unable to earn enough income to support themselves or where a spouse will be the custodial parent for a child who has a disability that requires a level of care that would prevent the parent from earning a sufficient income. A spouse may also be required to pay spousal support if they were convicted of family violence against the other spouse or their child during the marriage or divorce. Even if a spouse would not normally be eligible to receive spousal maintenance, a couple may agree that support will be paid as part of their divorce settlement, or the terms of a prenuptial agreement may require support to be paid.


TX high asset divorce lawyerPaying alimony or maintenance after a Texas high asset divorce can cost tens of thousands of dollars for high earners. Yet there may be options available to parties in a high net worth divorce to limit the amount of taxes paid on alimony. Once you know that your spouse is entitled to receive maintenance under Texas law, you will likely be wondering whether there are ways to limit the amount of taxes that you will pay on those alimony payments. Indeed, since the payor spouse is responsible for taxes on the maintenance payments, those taxes can be significant.

While a court order for maintenance does not provide options for minimizing maintenance taxes in a high net worth divorce in Texas, entering into a marital settlement agreement with your spouse in which you provide an alternate form of compensation in lieu of maintenance payments could allow you to minimize taxes substantially. There are certain methods for reducing or minimizing alimony taxes for the wealthy, discussed below.

Minimizing Taxes on Maintenance in Austin, TX

Texas law caps maintenance payments at $5,000 per month, Yet even taxes on payments of $5,000 are probably more than you would like to pay. As we said above, there may be options to reduce the total amount of taxes you will pay. Options that may be available include but are not limited to the following:

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