Texas law makes it easy for couples who can cooperate during the divorce process to minimize the expenses involved in the legal process. Alimony in Texas can be applied for as part of a written agreement drafted by the couple and submitted along with a joint petition for divorce. It is simple enough for spouses to create a legally acceptable document detailing the terms of their separation will not need to pay for the expenses of a lawyer.
Alimony in Texas is known as “spousal maintenance.” To qualify for these kinds of payments, the person seeking compensation must:
• Have been married for 10 years or more
• Be incapable of becoming self-sustaining because of a lack of education, the necessity of caring for a disabled child, or any form of disability
• Alternately, anyone who has been the victim of domestic abuse can apply for spousal maintenance
In cases of disability, payments may be ordered to continue indefinitely but can be reviewed, modified or ceased at any time. Otherwise, “spousal maintenance” cannot continue for more than three years. Judges are directed to try to set the shortest reasonable amount of period for these payments to continue. This sum cannot be more than $2,500 a month or represent more than 20% of the gross income of the person paying.
If a couple wishes to set a higher payment rate for whatever reason, they must draft an agreement themselves. A judge cannot set these kinds of terms in any marriage case.
Some couples may not be able to draft a written agreement but agree that they wish to submit a plan rather than depending upon a judge’s verdict, the results of which could be uncertain. In this case, they may decide to seek out the services of an attorney who specializes in divorce mediation. This legal specialist can help offer neutral advice and draw up the terms of alimony in Texas. While this can be expensive, it is a worthwhile expenditure for spouses who commit to negotiating in good faith and emerging with an agreement.
When drawing up a separation agreement, it is important to be as specific as possible. In reviewing any proposed terms of alimony in Texas, a judge is directed to take note of anything they consider relevant to the case. The law specifies a few important points to consider that should be included in any written agreement:
• Both spouses’ education level and work skills
• Each spouses’ financial resources
• The marriage’s duration
• The proceeds from any assets sold during the divorce process
• Marital misconduct such as adultery committed by the person seeking alimony
• Whether the alimony plan can actually be realistically agreed to by the spouse being sought payment of
• Any contribution made to the education or earning skills of the other spouse
• Efforts made by the spouse seeking alimony to find employment
The judge always has final authority in deciding how much alimony in Texas will be awarded.