Having to go through the divorce process is already emotionally difficult. But when it comes to contested divorces as the result of disagreements, faults, or a multitude of other reasons, the financial factor of divorce is often the most looked at. In many cases, a family court may order one spouse to pay the other alimony. Alimony is an amount of financial support that the court orders one party to pay the other following divorce.

Alternatively, it is possible for both spouses to enter into an agreement. This agreement is basically a signed contract between both parties, usually mediated by lawyers, that can be provided to the court to show that the parties have mutually agreed to an amount for alimony.

When Do I Have to Pay (Or Be Paid) Alimony In A Divorce

How Is Alimony Eligibility Determined?

Alimony, sometimes referred to as support payments or maintenance payments, are only determined by a family judge. It’s important to work closely with your lawyer so that they can argue your case for the best outcome for you. In order to receive alimony, or be required to pay alimony, the spouse receiving the payments must meet one of four eligibility requirements under Texas law.

The first eligibility requirement involves one or more children. If the spouse retains custody of any children in the divorce, and the children require extra care and supervision due to a physical or mental disability, then they are likely eligible to receive alimony. However, the spouse must be able to provide proof that they can not financially support themself and the child with minimum reasonable needs with their current earnings.

If the marriage lasts 10 or more years and one spouse can’t earn enough money to meet their minimum reasonable needs, they will be eligible for alimony payments. The spouse may have to show that they made an effort to earn what they need, or that they got training or schooling to be able to earn enough money. These efforts should be documented so that they can be presented to the judge as proof.

Domestic violence, whether against the spouse or a child, is also a possible eligibility requirement to receive alimony payments. If a spouse was convicted of a family violence criminal offense, or receives deferred adjudication or probation for a family violence criminal offense, they may be required to pay alimony. The receiving spouse, who would be the victim in the criminal case, would be eligible to receive payments. It should be noted that the status of conviction or deferred adjudication would have to be within the previous two years leading up to filing for divorce, or while the divorce is pending.

Lastly, a spouse may be eligible to receive alimony payments if they themselves are unable to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs due to physical or mental disability. As stated earlier, the spouse will need to be able to provide documentation as proof that they do in fact have a physical or mental disability that would qualify them to receive alimony payments.

How Much Can I Get From Alimony And For How Long?

Ultimately, the family court will make the final determination of eligibility while taking into account all aspects of the divorce including any grounds for being at fault by one party. The court will also decide on the amount of alimony although this number could potentially change as time passes.

Regardless of the total amount, Texas law does place a cap on monthly alimony payments. Monthly payments come in one of two ways: a cap of $5,000 per month, or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly gross income. In Texas, this is not a means for permanent income. While alimony payments cannot be increased, they can decrease over time. Alimony is meant to provide financial support to the receiving spouse until they can make changes to their own situation to support their own needs. The receiving spouse could also lose their eligibility if they are dishonest and do not disclose everything required by the court.

There are many factors to a divorce that can be confusing and difficult, so you can rest assured that you are in the best hands when you hire Marx Altman & Johnson for your divorce. Contact us today to get started.