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How long will I have to pay my Texas alimony?

Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is money given by one spouse to another to support them financially either during the divorce or after those proceedings. Currently, Texas law allows a court to award spousal support to a spouse during the actual divorce proceedings. The court may also award spousal support following a divorce based on several factors.

-- A spouse who has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence within the last two years prior to the divorce filing may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other spouse. This also includes domestic violence crimes in which did not necessarily result in a conviction but a lesser adjudication.

-- A court may also require a spouse to provide maintenance to another spouse if the couple had been married for at least 10 years prior to the divorce filing and the recipient has some form of limitation. Generally, that limitation must affect the spouse receiving the maintenance in a way that prevents them from meeting their minimum reasonable needs. Some examples of these limitations may include a physical or mental disability or an inability to work due to providing care for disabled children.

-- Regardless of the reasons for spousal support, the court can only require a spouse to pay either $5,000 per month or 20 percent of his or her gross income, whichever is the lesser of the two.

-- In cases where a couple has been married for more than 10 years, yet less than 20, a court can order a spouse to make spousal support payments for a maximum term of five years.

-- In divorce cases where a couple has been married for more than 20 years, yet less than 30 years total, a court can order a spouse to provide maintenance to the other spouse for a maximum of 10 years.

-- In rare cases, a court may potentially extend spousal support payments indefinitely for spouses suffering from some disabilities.

If you are a Texas resident currently being asked to pay spousal support, you should know that Texas law requires that each spouse exercise reasonable diligence in meeting his or her own minimum needs prior to receiving maintenance. Your Texas family law attorney can assist you in evaluating the particulars of your case and seeking a favorable outcome.

Source: Texas State Legislature-Family Code, "Subchapter B- Spousal Maintenance" Dec. 09, 2014

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