If you are contemplating divorce or are about to get a divorce, you probably have a lot of questions about your future and about what happens during divorce proceedings. One of the most contested issues in a divorce relates to alimony, also referred to as “spousal support.” While Texas allows for the awarding of spousal support, called “spousal maintenance” in Texas, in a divorce, there are very specific eligibility requirements that must be met. There will also be a thorough analysis regarding how much alimony should be paid and how long the alimony award should last.
How Long Will I Have to Pay Alimony?
While divorcing parties may reach an agreement regarding alimony on their own, for a spouse to make a demand for alimony, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met. So, in order for a spouse to request spousal maintenance, he or she must first establish that he or she is eligible to be awarded alimony.
In order to qualify for alimony in Texas, the spouse requesting alimony must show that he or she is unable to afford to cover reasonable needs. Furthermore, it must be shown that:
- The other spouse was convicted or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence that was committed within two years before divorce proceedings were initiated or during the pendency of the divorce;
- The spouse seeking alimony is unable to earn income sufficient to meet reasonable needs due to a physical or mental disability;
- The spouse seeking support is unable to earn income sufficient to meet reasonable needs due to responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage with special needs due to physical or mental disability; or
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years.
Should the spouse petitioning for alimony meet the above requirements, then the court will proceed in determining both the amount and duration of the spousal maintenance award.
For the most part, how long you may be obligated to pay alimony will depend on the length of the marriage. If your marriage lasted less than 10 years but the paying spouse was abusive, the alimony award may last up to 5 years. If the marriage lasted 10 to 20 years, then the alimony award may last up to 5 years as well. If the marriage lasted 20 to 30 years, then the alimony award may last up to 7 years. In cases where the spouse petitioning for alimony has a dependent child with a disability, the alimony award may last indefinitely with the qualification that the underlying basis for the alimony award continues.
Regarding the specific time and amount of the alimony award, the court will weigh a number of factors beyond the length of the marriage. These factors include:
- The educational background of the spouses
- The earning capacity of the spouses
- The age of the petitioning spouse
- The employment history of both spouses
- The contributions of the petitioning spouse as a homemaker
- The petitioning spouse’s efforts to seek gainful employment
Family Law Attorneys
Divorce can have a significant impact on your financial future. You want to be sure that your best interests are protected and Navarrete & Schwartz is here to do just that. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.