Sometimes, spouses in Texas may assume that if they divorce, one party will automatically be ordered to pay alimony. However, under Texas law, alimony -- also known as spousal support -- will only be awarded in limited circumstances.
First, the spouse seeking alimony must not have enough assets to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Also, the spouse seeking alimony must also meet one of the following qualifications: there must be a conviction for domestic violence within two years of filing for divorce or while the divorce is pending; the spouse seeking alimony must have been deemed to have an incapacitating mental or physical disability; or the spouse seeking alimony must be the custodian of a disabled child and cannot work due to having to care for the child.
If a court decides that one of the above qualifications is met, the court will then need to determine how much alimony to award, the nature of the award, how long the award will last and how it will be paid. When making these decisions, the court will consider a number of factors.
First, the court will consider each party's ability to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Each party's level of education and job skills may also be considered. Also, the court will look at how long the marriage lasted. The court may also consider how old the party seeking alimony is, as well as that party's employment history, health, and earning ability.
If a party is also paying child support, this may be considered. If a party tried to waste, destroy or hide marital property, this may be considered. Whether one party contributed to the increased earning capacity of the other party, and whether one party stayed out of the workforce to care for the home may be considered. If one party committed an act of marital misconduct, this may be considered. Finally, the court may consider whether there is a history of domestic violence.
As this shows, not every spouse will be entitled to alimony following a divorce. Those who have questions about alimony in Texas may want to seek legal advice. A family law attorney can assess their situation to determine how the state's alimony laws apply to the facts of their case.