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Alimony & Spousal Support in Texas

Spousal maintenance, maintenance as defined in the Texas Family Code TFC is an award in a suit for dissolution of a marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. Alimony, the term Alimony is used to refer to a contractual agreement between spouses for the future support of one of the spouses.

Contractual alimony can be a useful tool and negotiating a settlement between  spouses that will meet the needs of the receiving party and provide tax benefits to the paying party. A spouse seeking maintenance will  have to prove that they are unable to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.

The Court will look if family violence occurred within two years before suit is filed or while a suit is pending.

One of the following must apply to spouse seeking maintenance,  the inability to earn enough income to provide for a minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability, or the marriage last  10 years or longer and spouse lacks ability to earn enough income to provide for minimum reasonable needs,  or the seeking spousal support spouse is a custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because physical and mental disability that keeps the spouse from earning enough income to provide for  their minimum reasonable needs.

Duration of maintenance, except disability situations, the duration of marriage under 10 years and Family Violence maximum then duration maximum is 5 years.

10 through 20 years maximum duration 5 years.  20 through 30 years maximum duration 7 years.  30 plus years maximum duration 10 years. The  amount of maintenance in Texas unlike many other states the law limits the amount of support a court can order.

Awards may not be more than 5000 per month or more than 20% of the spouses average monthly gross income (whichever is less). What does gross income include and not include gross income?  Includes–> one hundred percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services,  interest income, divided income, and royalty income, self-employment income are all income in Texas.


Net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments but not including non-cash items)  all other income actually being received, including severance pay retirement benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts ,and prizes, maintenance, and alimony. Gross income does not include, one return or principle or capital, accounts receivable, benefits paid in accordance with federal public assistant programs. For benefits paid in accordance with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Payments for foster care of a child. Department of  Veterans Affairs service-connected disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income SSI. 

Social Security and disability benefits, Veterans disability, Workers compensation benefits, are excluded from the income definition.

Factors in determining maintenance

A court that determines spouse is eligible to receive maintenance must determine the nature amount duration a manner of payments considering relevant factors as stated previously.

Each spouse’s ability to provide for the spouses reasonable needs.

The education and employment skills of both spouses, the time necessary to acquire education or training to enable the supportive spouse to earn enough income to become financially independent.

The duration of the marriage, the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.

If child support is a factor in the case each spouse’s ability to meet needs while paying child support. Whether either spouse wasted, concealed, destroyed or otherwise disposed of any community property. Whether either spouse is contributed to the others education, training, or increased earning power during the marriage the property both spouses brought to the marriage.

Any contributions of a spouse as a homemaker. Marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment by either spouse during the marriage and any history or pattern of family violence.

Termination of the maintenance  support obligation occurs on, death of either party  or remarriage of the spouse receiving support- the obligation to pay future maintenance terminations on the death of either party or on the remarriage of the obligee.

Cohabitation shall terminate the maintenance obligation if the Court finds that the obligee cohabits with another person with whom the obligee has a dating or romantic relationship in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis.

Accrued maintenance not terminated- Termination of the maintenance obligation does not terminate the obligation to pay any maintenance the accrued before the day of termination.

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Michael Busby is a Houston divorce lawyer who has been in practice for over 20 years and appears daily in the Family Law Courts of Harris County and Fort Bend County Texas

Busby & Associates , have two Houston Offices, one in Chinatown, Houston Texas and another in Independent Heights, Houston, Texas. Michael Busby is Board Certified in Family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.