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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Understanding alimony laws in Texas

In the state of Texas, there are two different types of alimony payments. The first is contractual alimony and is a private agreement made between the parties. With this type of payment, there is no limit to the duration or amount of payments. With the contract being made between consenting adults and agreed to ahead of time by both parties, there also are not any stipulations regarding eligibility requirements.

Court-ordered spousal maintenance is a more complicated issue that courts often address along with property division and other issues in a divorce. In the past, alimony was determined based on years of marriage without taking circumstances into account. Courts in Texas now look at several factors, including whether one is disabled or caring for a disabled child, whether one lacks the experience or education to gain employment and the ability of the other spouse to make payments.

The duration of payments also depends on certain factors. In some cases where the partner has a disability and is unable to work or is the sole custodian for a person with a disability, then the payments may be indefinite or until the disability no longer exists. Cases of domestic violence also receive special consideration. In most cases, the duration is set to the shortest reasonable term that would allow the requesting spouse to start earning his or her own income, usually five, seven or 10 years.

When requesting alimony, those going through a divorce should understand how the law pertains to them and what their options are. Alimony is designed to help a partner get back on his or her feet after a divorce, and it can be valuable for a man or woman who has held off on filing for divorce out of concern over personal finances.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Alimony not an option for most divorcing in Texas", July 15, 2014

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