Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do I Have to Pay Alimony to My Wife?

Generally Texas frowns on the permanent payment of alimony to an ex -spouse after the divorce.  There are two forms of "alimony" in Texas.  One is temporary spousal support and the other is contractual alimony.  For contractual alimony, the parties have to contract and agree to the payment of alimony after the divorce.  This is usually only done when a spouse is a high wage earner and there are tax benefits to him or her in paying alimony.

The other type of alimony is more common, but still only applies in some narrow set of circumstances and usually only for a limited amount of time.  It is designed to help an ex-spouse from a long term marriage temporary support while they gain skills or education so they can be self sufficient after the divorce.

Eligibility is narrow an only applies if:

1.  The spouse from whom payment is sought was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Family Code Title 4 and the offense occurred within two years of the date the suit for dissolution of the marriage was filed OR the offense occurred during the pendency of the suit;


2.  The duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, AND

a.  the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed under the family code, to provide the minimum reasonable needs, (limited by the Family Code at 8.054), AND

b.  Is unable to be self supporting because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability, OR is the custodian of a child who has a physical or mental disability that requires the spouse not be employed outside the home, OR the spouse lacks the earning ability in the labor market to provide the minimum reasonable needs for that spouse.  Payments shall be for the shortest reasonable time that allows the spouse to obtain a job or skill level so as to reach that spouse's minimum reasonable needs (8.054).