Types of Spousal Support in Texas

In Texas, there are two types of post-divorce spousal support: contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. In this article, we will discuss each type of spousal support in further detail.

Contractual Alimony

Contractual alimony refers to the spousal support that both parties agree to pay/receive after the dissolution of their marriage. Because this form of spousal support is not court-mandated, the award amount may be outside of the statutory limits, and the duration of the payments may exceed the limits imposed on court-ordered spousal maintenance.

Contractual alimony is often beneficial for couples who would like to have more control over the terms of their spousal support agreement. However, it is important to note that these agreements are not as easily modified or enforced as court-order spousal support agreements. To enforce contractual alimony agreements, you will have to pursue a civil claim instead of employing the typical enforcement actions.

Spousal Maintenance

Unlike contractual alimony, spousal maintenance is ordered by the court without the consent or approval of either party. According to Texas Family Code § 8.001, maintenance refers to the monetary award one spouse periodically pays from their income to support the other after the dissolution of their marriage. The court can order spousal maintenance to be paid if a party seeking maintenance lacks the means to provide for their minimum reasonable needs and any of the following eligibility requirements are met.

  • The spouse who will pay maintenance (the payor) has been convicted of or received a deferred judgment for a family violence-related offense against the other party of the other party’s children (during the divorce proceedings or within 2 years of the divorce being filed).
  • The spouse seeking maintenance (the recipient) is not able to earn a suitable income that can provide for their reasonable needs because of a mental or physical disability.
  • The spouse seeking maintenance has been married to the other party for at least 10 years and does not have the ability to earn an income sufficient to meet their reasonable needs.
  • The spouse seeking maintenance has custody of the divorcing couple’s child, and the child requires substantial care and/or supervision that prevents the spouse from earning a sufficient income.

According to Texas Family Code § 8.055, monthly payments of spousal maintenance should not exceed $5,000 or 20% of the payor’s average monthly gross income. In calculating the award amount and determining the duration of the maintenance, the following factors will be evaluated.

  • Each spouse’s financial resources and ability to provide for their reasonable needs
  • Each spouse’s educational and employment background
  • The time the recipient would need to obtain additional education or training (and the availability and feasibility of such advancement opportunities) that can enable them to earn a more sufficient income
  • The length of the marriage
  • The recipient’s age, earning capacity, and physical and emotional health
  • Each spouse’s separate and marital assets and debts
  • Either party’s contribution as a homemaker
  • Both parties’ marital conduct during their union (i.e. cruel treatment, mental or physical abuse, adultery, etc.)

Retain Our Firm Today

At The Clark Law Firm, our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients protect their interests and make informed decisions during their divorce. Whether you are seeking alimony or being asked to pay spousal support, our attorneys can advise you of your best options and help you:

  • Develop a defense for or against spousal support
  • Determine whether either party is eligible for spousal maintenance
  • Determine what type of spousal support (if any) is best for you and/or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse
  • Calculate the potential award amount for spousal maintenance or contractual alimony
  • Understand the financial implications (including potential tax consequences) concerning spousal support determinations

We are also equipped to help you with other divorce-related matters, including:

To schedule a case consultation with our team at The Clark Law Firm, reach out online or call (817) 435-4970 today.


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