Understanding Alimony in Texas
Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is one of the words you will encounter during a divorce proceeding. Understanding alimony in Texas can be tricky unless you have a family law attorney on your side. Keep in mind that awarding alimony to a spouse is not automatic. For a Texas court to grant alimony, they would need to determine if required to make the divorce equitable.
Under Texas laws, either of the spouses can be eligible for alimony. The courts would consider the overall financial circumstances of both spouses. The duration of the marriage would also be considered in deciding alimony.
Termination of alimony can happen by either the party’s remarriage receiving the maintenance or the death of either party. Another kind of modification is when there is a change in the party’s financial circumstance paying the alimony. The decreased income or the reduction of the need for financial assistance by the recipient modification may be necessary.
There are instances wherein a Texas court may investigate the conduct of the parties during their marriage. They would also consider any marital delinquency of the spouse asking for alimony.
Alimony is given to the party based on the needs and current situation of the spouses. The length and duration of the alimony should also be included in the support agreement. A change in circumstances also warrants modifications based on the change of financial circumstances.
As for the tax treatment of the alimony, the payor may deduct support payments from federal taxes while the recipient must claim such payments as income.
How Alimony is Granted
Under the Texas Family Code, the Texas courts are limited as to how alimony is awarded. In 2010 the court would grant alimony when an act has convicted the paying spouse of family violence within two years before filing or while the divorce is ongoing. Another is if the marriage lasted for at least ten years and the receiving spouse does not have sufficient means to take care of their needs.
In determining the amount of alimony, the court considers different factors like the spouse’s income and financial resources. Other things like education levels, length of the marriage, age of spouses, physical and mental health, the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, and the marital misconduct of the party asking for maintenance.
Keep in mind that under Texas, laws do have a limit on how long maintenance lasts. Another restriction is that the court cannot order alimony to last for more than three years unless certain conditions are present. Conditions like the recipient having a mental or physical disability that precludes them from being gainfully employed. The spouse with custody of a child with a disability is also eligible for alimony for as long as the disability persists. However, these are all exceptions as the courts generally limit the maintenance to the shortest time possible to enable the recipient to earn a reasonable income to provide for their needs.
And finally, under the Texas Family Code, there is also a limit to the amount that should be given. The courts are enjoined not to award alimony of more than $2,500 or 20% of the payor spouse’s gross monthly income.
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