Is Alimony Always Awarded in a Texas Divorce?

Alimony Lawyer

Alimony, called “spousal maintenance” in Texas, is a payment made by one former spouse to the other during or after a divorce. It can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce or separation.

A question often posed: Is alimony always awarded after a divorce in Texas? The answer is a clear no; Texas has strict requirements related to an award of maintenance, and such support will only be granted when those specific criteria are met.

Here, our Texas alimony lawyers explain the key things to know about a spousal support award in a Texas divorce.

What to Know About the Alimony Laws in Texas

Put succinctly, alimony or maintenance is not always awarded in a Texas divorce. In fact, it is rarely granted in our state, because Texas has one of the most narrow and restrictive alimony/maintenance laws in the entire country.

Under Texas Family Code Sec. 8.051, a person will only be entitled to receive court-ordered maintenance if they can prove that they “will lack sufficient property, including the spouse’s separate property, on the dissolution of the marriage to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs”, and one of the following four things:

  • Long Marriage (10 Years or More): A person can qualify for alimony after a divorce if they were married for at least ten years and they lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
  • Cannot Be Self-Sufficient Due to Disability: A person may also qualify for maintenance after a divorce—regardless of the length of the marriage—if they cannot be financially self-sufficient due to a serious or incapacitating mental or physical disability.
  • Spouse is Caregiver for a Disabled Child from the Marriage: Court-ordered maintenance may also be awarded following a divorce—regardless of the length of the marriage—to a spouse who is the full-time caretaker of a child from the marriage who has an incapacitating mental or physical disability, and that role of caretaker prevents that spouse from meeting their minimum reasonable needs.
  • Family Violence: The Court may also order maintenance if one spouse was convicted of, or received what is called deferred adjudication for, a criminal offense involving family violence toward the other spouse or the other spouse’s child—and that offense happened within two years of filing for divorce.

Presumption That Judge Should Award Minimum Amount of Alimony to Meet Needs

If a spouse qualifies to receive alimony after a divorce in Texas, there is a policy in place that requires a judge to presume that the award should be the minimum amount of financial support that is necessary to meet their needs (i.e., “minimum reasonable needs”). However, this presumption can be rebutted. Also, what it means for someone to be able to meet their “minimum reasonable needs needs” is determined on a case-by-case basis.

It is also notable that Texas—unlike most other states—has a strict statutory cap on spousal maintenance awards. The maximum amount of maintenance that can be ordered per month in a divorce case in Texas is the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of the gross monthly income of the payor.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With Our Dallas Alimony Lawyer

At Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson, LLP, our Dallas divorce attorneys have the skills and family law experience to handle the full spectrum of alimony cases. Contact our law firm today at 214-273-2400 for a strictly confidential initial legal consultation.