Alimony is a “punishment” payment that can cripple the payor, typically the ex-husband, and it forces endless payments to the ex-spouse unless the spouse receiving the payments remarries. Now, ask yourself, why would anyone remarry if they are receiving a monthly paycheck for being an ex-spouse? And I’m not talking about a small payment, in most states, the amount is pretty hefty. For instance, my father-in-law, who lives in Maryland, has been divorced over 20 years ago and he is STILL paying alimony. His ex-spouse has had multiple boyfriends/partners but as long as she does not get remarried, my father-in-law is stuck paying her $3,000 per month. This is one hefty “divorce punishment payment.” Fortunately, that does not exist in Texas. Now, before you go divorcing your spouse, please understand that Texas does have quasi-alimony known as “spousal support.” However, unlike Maryland, in order to receive spousal support, certain requirements MUST be met.

Spousal support falls under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code and states that a spouse may receive spousal support if:

  1. A spouse who has been married ten years or longer lacks sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable needs, and cannot support themselves because of his or her disability, the disability of a child from the marriage, or his or her lack of earning capacity; OR
  2. The spouse has been convicted for an offense that constituted an act of family violence.

In Texas’ eyes, spousal support was created to provide temporary and rehabilitative support, not a lifetime paycheck. Now, spousal support is not mandatory and must be proven up to the Court. In addition, if a spouse is receiving substantial property in a divorce, such as a large equity payment from a house, a retirement account, or other things of value, that property can eliminate a request for spousal support. Even if the hurdle of proving need is met, and the judge decides to grant spousal support, the final issues are: 1) how much will the judge approve, and 2) how long will the judge order the payments to be in effect? $500 for 6 months? $2,000 for 1 year? More per month? Longer? The amount and length of time are both discretionary, based on the evidence provided to the Court, and both of these items are also based upon how many years the couple was married. If a couple was married Ten (10) years but less than twenty (20) years, then they can request up to 20% of the other spouse’s net resources up to five (5) years. Marriages between twenty (20) years but less than thirty (30) years can request up to seven (7) years of support. Finally, marriages thirty (30) years and longer can request up to ten (10) years of support.

Now, if your spouse has been convicted of family violence against you, not just charged, then you do not have to meet the ten (10) year minimum marriage provision. In addition, if the divorce is based on adultery which can be proven, spousal support can be also be requested as a form of punishment for causing the divorce.

If you find yourself seeking spousal support or defending against such a request, make sure you contact the attorneys that know the law, the attorneys at Dodson Legal Group.


                                                                        Victor Rivera

                                                                        Board Certified Family Law Attorney

                                                                        Dodson Legal Group