How is Alimony Determined?

Explained by Our Houston Spousal Support Lawyer

Photo of CalculatorTexas courts have a predisposition to provide rehabilitative alimony for spouses, in order to allow the receiving spouse to receive the proper training necessary to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient. Courts often review the following factors when determining whether temporary alimony is necessary:

  • The financial resources available to each spouse
  • The ability of the payor spouse to support the receiving spouse
  • The educational background and work history of the receiving spouse

Criteria for Court-Ordered Maintenance

Texas courts order maintenance if one spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs,” and can additionally demonstrate one of the following:

  1. The recipient spouse is unable to earn sufficient income due to mental or physical disability;
  2. The marriage was over 10 years and the recipient lacks sufficient income;
  3. The recipient spouse is the primary custodian of a child of the marriage with physical or mental disabilities; or
  4. The payor spouse was convicted or received deferred jurisdiction for family violence within two years of the divorce being filed.

If one of these situations arises, the court may use the following factors to determine the extent, duration and amount of alimony ordered:

  • The financial ability of one spouse to financially support the other spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • Disparity in income levels between the two spouses
  • The resources available to each spouse, including any individual or community property retained by each spouse
  • The age, work history, educational background and ability of each spouse to obtain gainful employment
  • Efforts by the receiving spouse to seek employment counseling
  • Any physical or mental disability of the receiving spouse
  • The responsibility of one spouse to care for the children
  • Contributions by the receiving spouse to the education and employment opportunities of the other spouse
  • Misconduct by the receiving spouse

Regardless of the above circumstances, the amount of monthly court-ordered alimony may not exceed $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s gross income, whichever is less. Additionally, except in cases where the receiving spouse suffers from a disability or is the primary custodian for a child with disabilities, the court may only order alimony for a set amount of years, depending on the length of the marriage. For marriages between 10 and 20 years, it is limited to 5 years; for marriages between 20-30 years, it is limited to 7 years, and for marriages exceeding 30 years in length, rehabilitative maintenance may be awarded for not more than 10 years.

Providing Assistance to Houston Families

If you are facing the possibility of divorce, you should contact a Houston divorce lawyer to assist you. The Houston spousal support attorneys at John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C., are experienced in a wide variety of divorce matters, including permanent and temporary alimony arrangements. For further information, contact the Houston alimony attorney at our firm today.