When a marriage ends, the court may order that one spouse pay the other spouse alimony. Called spousal maintenance in Texas, this arrangement may occur when one person has much higher wages or earning potential than his or her former partner. 

Learn more about how Texas determines spousal support in a divorce. 

Eligibility for spousal maintenance 

Texas law allows spousal support when one spouse will be unable to meet his or her basic expenses after the divorce, as long as he or she also meets one of these qualifications: 

  • He or she has custody of a child who is mentally or physically disabled. 
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years. 
  • He or she has a mental or physical disability that limits earning potential. 
  • The other spouse committed domestic violence against the spouse requesting support or his or her child, provided the instance in question was within the past two years. 

Keep in mind that the court places the burden of proof on the spouse seeking support, who must show that he or she has tried to make enough income to meet basic needs. Texas law presumes that neither party will receive spousal maintenance. 

Amount and duration of alimony 

Monthly support cannot exceed 20% of the monthly income of the spouse paying maintenance or $5,000 (the lesser of the two). The state has established time limits for spousal maintenance, except in cases where the spouse receiving support or his or her child has a mental or physical disability. Payments continue for five years for marriages lasting 10 to 20 years or where domestic violence occurred, seven years for marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years and 10 years for marriages ending after more than 30 years. 

Maintenance payments end automatically when one spouse dies or when the spouse receiving maintenance makes a permanent home with a new partner or remarries. Alimony will last the shortest amount of time that allows the person to attain the necessary resources and skills to cover monthly expenses.