Spousal Support Attorney in Plano, Texas
If you are contemplating a divorce or are already in the process of ending your marriage, you probably have a lot of questions about spousal maintenance—which is commonly referred to as alimony, or spousal support. Will the judge award alimony in your divorce case? How long will you have to pay or receive spousal maintenance?
Courts in Texas consider various factors when making decisions regarding alimony in divorce cases. That’s why it’s important to contact a spousal maintenance attorney to represent your best interests, whether your goal is to obtain or contest alimony. As an experienced spousal support attorney at Thornton Law, PLLC, I assist clients in Plano and the rest of Texas with legal matters surrounding alimony.
Alimony in Texas
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is the amount of money paid from one spouse to the other after the end of their marriage. Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not awarded in all divorces in Texas. An award of spousal support is available when specific conditions exist. The purpose of alimony payments is to allow the supported spouse to meet his or her reasonable financial needs.
In addition to spousal maintenance, which refers to payments made after a divorce is final, Texas law also recognizes two types of alimony:
Temporary spousal support. As its name implies, this type of alimony is paid for a short period of time. Temporary spousal support is only available to the lower-earning spouse during divorce proceedings. However, under certain circumstances, the judge may extend the temporary alimony order for some time after the divorce is finalized.
Contractual spousal support. Unlike the regular spousal maintenance award, which is ordered by a judge, spouses can voluntarily agree upon spousal support to be paid after the divorce is final. This is known as contractual spousal support. However, the contract still needs to be reviewed and approved by the court before it becomes part of the final decree.
Who is Entitled to Spousal Maintenance?
Texas courts grant temporary spousal support when one party can show their inability to financially support themselves while the divorce case is pending. As for spousal maintenance, which is awarded after the divorce is finalized, a court will not award alimony after the divorce unless the requesting spouse can prove that they do not have enough assets to provide for basic needs and any one of the following is true:
The other spouse was convicted of a family violence crime against the requesting spouse or the spouses’ children within two years prior to the filing date or any time after the petition for divorce was filed
The requesting spouse lacks the ability to self-support because of a physical or mental disability or impairment
The marriage lasted at least 10 years, and the spouse seeking spousal maintenance cannot earn enough income to meet basic needs
The requesting spouse is a custodial parent of the couple’s child who needs special care or personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability, preventing the spouse from working
Determination of Type, Amount,
and Duration of Alimony
Once the court determines that the spouse seeking spousal maintenance is eligible to receive it, the court will decide on the type, amount, and duration of spousal support after considering a wide range of factors. Some of the factors that affect the court’s determination of alimony include but are not limited to:
The income and financial resources of the spouses
The spouses’ education and skills relevant for gainful employment
The length of the marriage
The earning capacity of both spouses
The age of each spouse, as well as their physical and emotional wellbeing
The spouses’ contributions to the marriage
The marital misconduct of either spouse
Many people receiving alimony or ordered to pay alimony in Texas often wonder when it will end. In Texas, the duration of alimony is based on the length of the marriage and whether or not the supporting spouse was convicted of a family violence crime:
If the marriage lasted more than 10 years (but not more than 20 years) and/or the supporting spouse was convicted of a family violence offense (or received deferred adjudication), the court cannot award spousal maintenance for more than five years;
If the spouses were married for at least 20 years but no longer than 30 years, the duration of alimony cannot exceed seven years
If the marriage lasted at least 30 years, the court could award alimony for up to 10 years
Aside from these duration caps, alimony ends upon the supported spouse’s death. However, if the supporting spouse dies, alimony payments must be paid by the spouse’s estate.
Changes to Current Spousal
Certain circumstances may warrant a change to your current spousal maintenance agreement. If you have an alimony order and wish to modify it, contact a divorce attorney in Plano, Texas, to assist with the modification process and prepare the necessary paperwork.
In Texas, either party can file a motion to modify the alimony order to reduce or increase the ordered amount. The party requesting changes to the alimony order needs to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances to modify the spousal maintenance agreement. A common example of a substantial change in circumstances is the involuntary loss of employment, which makes the payor unable to meet their obligation.
Spousal Maintenance Attorney Serving Plano, Texas
Alimony cases can be complicated to handle on your own, especially when you do not understand state laws that govern spousal maintenance awards. Whether you are seeking or contesting alimony in Texas, reach out to legal counsel from a spousal support attorney in Plano to protect your rights and strive for favorable results. At Thornton Law, PLLC, I help clients with matters related to alimony in Plano, Denton, Dallas, McKinney, and the rest of the state.