The short answer to this question is no Texas does not have Alimony. Instead, Texas has spousal maintenance and has very specific guidelines to be met in order to qualify. There are three different categories to qualify for spousal maintenance which include (1) family violence occurred, (2) marriage of over 10 years and inability to earn sufficient income, or (3) caring for a child of the marriage prevents spouse from earning sufficient income. Today I will focus on category (2) with the marriage of over 10 years.
The code reads as follows: “…has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.” Meeting the first part of this equation is simple, you have to have been married for 10 years or longer. The second part of this equation is much more difficult to determine. The code does not define “minimum reasonable needs” and is therefore left up to the Court to determine a person’s minimum reasonable needs. This means that each case will be different in determining the minimum reasonable needs. A Court will look at the following to help guide it in determining the amount, duration, manner and nature of the spousal maintenance:
- ability of the spouse to provide spousal maintenance to meet needs
- education and employment skills of the spouses
- duration of the marriage
- age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of spouse seeking maintenance
- child support
- acts of the spouses with regarding to property
- contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse
- property brought into the marriage
- contribution as a homemaker
- marital misconduct
- family violence
The Court can consider any other factors that would be relevant in each case to determine minimum reasonable needs.
In any case Texas also provides for a cap on the amount of maintenance that may be awarded. The maximum amount that may be awarded as of the writing of this post is $5,000 or 20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less. Next time I will discuss spousal maintenance with regard to family violence and the qualifying conditions.