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Spousal maintenance in Texas

Although alimony, or maintenance as it is called in Texas, is difficult to obtain, it is allowable and ordered if the spouse requesting it meets certain statutory requirements. When family violence has not been involved, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years in most cases.

If family violence has been involved either in the prior two years or during the pendency of the divorce and was committed against the spouse or the spouse's child, maintenance may be ordered. In family violence cases, the 10-year rule does not apply.

The court must find that the requesting spouse is unable to reasonably provide for him or herself after taking into consideration the property division they will receive. Maintenance orders are time-limited according to the length of marriage. Even though an order for someone who has been married for 10 years may be for as much as five years following the divorce, courts order the least amount of months that reasonably allow the spouse to obtain reasonable education and employment in order to support him or herself.

People who are divorcing and unable to financially provide for themselves may be eligible to seek spousal support. A family law attorney may be able to advise people regarding their eligibility for support under the state's laws. As courts will consider whether the person has made reasonable efforts to obtain employment or education that can lead to them being able to support themselves, it is a good idea to try to find work or to enroll in school to gain needed skills. For parents who are unable to work because they are caring for a disabled child, it is still possible to seek maintenance without working or attending school. A lawyer may be able to help by filing motions and requesting maintenance on a client's behalf.

Source: Dallas Bar Association, "Alimony in Texas: Myths and Changes", Jana Wickham Paul and Holly Eckert, November 06, 2014

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