Alimony – called spousal support in Texas – is by no means a certainty upon divorce. When it is considered appropriate, however, it can play a very important financial role. The idea behind alimony payments is to help the spouse who experiences a monetary downturn with divorce find his or her financial bearings – with the financial assistance of the other spouse (who has the financial means to help). There is no set timeline or end date for alimony – nor is there a definitive calculation process – which is why having an experienced Round Rock divorce lawyer on your side from the outset is well advised.
Coming to a Mutual Decision
If you and your divorcing spouse are able to come to terms regarding alimony – regarding both its amount and duration – this will guide your alimony terms. If, however, you are not in agreement, you can turn to your respective divorce lawyers to help you negotiate mutually acceptable terms and, failing this, can turn to mediation in an attempt to find middle ground. Once you have exhausted every avenue of negotiation, however, you will need to turn to the court to decide on your behalf.
Qualifying for Alimony
In Texas, the court considers several factors in determining whether a divorcing spouse qualifies for alimony. If you were not married at least ten years prior to divorce, one of the following must apply (in addition to your financial need in relation to reasonably supporting yourself):
You are unable to earn income that is sufficient to meet your reasonable needs as a result of a physical or mental disability.
You cannot earn income that is sufficient to meet your reasonable needs as a result of caring for a child with special needs.
Your soon-to-be-ex was convicted of (or received deferred adjudication for) an act of family violence that occurred within two years of the divorce proceedings (or during the pendency of the divorce).
If you are determined to qualify for alimony, the court will then determine its amount and duration – both of which will be specifically tailored to your unique circumstances.
The General Parameters for Duration
Typically, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony. The idea behind most alimony awards is to allow the recipient the time and financial backing necessary to pursue the education, job skills, or experience necessary to obtain a job that will allow him or her to become financially independent. In the event that the recipient becomes the primary caregiver for a child with special needs (who requires significant ongoing care), the alimony awarded may not include a termination date.