Alimony, also known as spousal support or contractual maintenance, is the court-ordered or approved amount that one spouse must pay the other after divorce. If neither party can agree on an amount, the court will only assign alimony under specific conditions per Texas state law.
The court can award alimony if the requesting party has been a recipient of domestic abuse within a two-year period preceding the divorce, or at any time during divorce proceedings. Spousal support can also be awarded if the marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years and the recipient is disabled, caring for a child with a disability or otherwise hindered from earning a livable wage.
There are legal limitations for how much alimony the court can award and how long spousal support can endure. The amount of alimony cannot exceed what state law deems a livable, reasonable wage and takes the recipient’s income into account during that calculation. The monthly amount may not exceed $5,000 or more than 20 percent of the obligor’s income, whichever is less. The endurance of alimony payments is contingent on how long the marriage lasted. Alimony can be extended when the requesting party suffers from a limiting disability or is the caretaker for a child with a limiting disability.
Much like child support, court-ordered alimony is enforcible, and strict penalties can occur if it is not paid. Depending on the case, alimony may or may not be tax-deductible. For any person dealing with divorce that includes alimony requests, it may be beneficial to consult with a family law attorney to determine the proper legal strategy for approaching the case.
Source: The State Bar of Texas, “Pro Se Divorce Handbook “, October 20, 2014