Can I get court-ordered alimony in Texas?
Texas law refers to alimony as “spousal maintenance.” A court can order spousal maintenance under certain specific circumstances. The couple must have been married more than ten years and the spouse requesting support must show that he or she lacks the ability to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. A spouse requesting maintenance must also show that he or she is either disabled, caring for a disabled child or lacks earning capacity. In cases not involving disability, spousal maintenance cannot continue for more than three years.
Although a court cannot order a spouse to pay alimony, spouses can agree to contractual alimony. Payment by a spouse would be enforceable as a contract but not as a court order as in the case of spousal maintenance.
Yes, the law provides for spousal maintenance after divorce. There are limits to the amount which can be ordered paid and the duration for which it can be paid. There are also a number of criteria which must be met before you become eligible to receive spousal maintenance. It was enacted by the legislature to provide a small measure of support for women who have been homemakers or caretakers of small or disabled children, to help them make the transition to becoming self-supporting. In addition to court-ordered maintenance, many cases are settled with provisions for contractual alimony payments, which can be much higher and of longer duration than court-ordered maintenance, if the parties agree to the terms.
Michael R. Puhl