Alimony in Texas

This is a description of alimony (called “maintenance”) in Texas from  Jimmy Verner, a family lawyer at Verner, Brumley, Mueller Parker in Dallas. He’s been kind enough to allow me to share it with you.

Maintenance (a/k/a Alimony)

Effective date

September 1, 1995 – applies to suits brought on or after effective date.  Caveat: [The Act] does not apply to an action filed on or before January 1, 1997, if a prior suit for dissolution of a marriage between the parties was nonsuited by the spouse seeking maintenance on or after January 1, 1995, and on or before August 31, 1995.

H.B. 1863, Acts of 74th Legislature, Regular Session, 1995.


Section 10.01 of H.B. 1863 states:

(a) It is the intent of the legislature in this article to provide spousal maintenance primarily as a temporary rehabilitative measure for a divorced spouse whose ability for self-support is lacking or has deteriorated through the passage of time while the spouse was engaged in homemaking activities and whose capital assets are insufficient to provide support.

(b)  It is the intent of the legislature in this article that spousal support should be terminated in the shortest reasonable time, not to exceed three years, in which the former spouse is able to be employed or to acquire the necessary skills to become self-supporting.  Only in circumstances in which the former spouse cannot become self-supporting by reason of incapacitating physical or mental disability should maintenance be extended beyond this period.

What is “Maintenance?”

“Maintenance” means an award in a divorce, annulment, or suit to declare a marriage void of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.

Family Code § 3.9601.

How Do You Get Maintenance?

Two classes of persons are eligible for maintenance:

1. persons whose spouses committed crimes that also qualify as family violence for protective order purposes.

the spouse from whom maintenance is sought was convicted of, or received deferred adjudication for, a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence under Section 71.01, Family Code, and the offense occurred

(A) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage was filed; or

(B) during the pendency of the suit.

Family Code § 3.9602(1).

2. spouses in ten-year marriages who can’t support themselves.

the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code, to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 3.9605, and the spouse seeking maintenance

(A) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;

(B) is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or

(C) clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 3.9605.

Family Code § 3.9602(2).

Presumption Against Maintenance

Unless the spouse has an incapacitating physical or mental disability, it is presumed that maintenance is not warranted unless the spouse seeking maintenance has exercised diligence in

(1) seeking suitable employment; or

(2) developing the necessary skills to become self-supporting during any period of separation and during the pendency of the divorce suit.

Family Code § 3.904.

How Much?

The lesser of $2500 per month or 20% of the spouse’ average monthly gross income per month.  Family Code § 3.9606(a).

The court is supposed to provide for the “minimum reasonable needs” of the spouse receiving maintenance, considering that spouse’s employment or property received in the divorce or otherwise owned that contributes to meeting the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.  Family Code § 3.9606(b).

VA disability payments, social security, and workmen’s comp are excluded from maintenance.  Family Code § 3.9606(c).

How Long?

Three years max, unless the former spouse receiving maintenance  is unable to support himself because of incapacitating physical or mental disability, in which case indefinitely.  Family Code § 3.9605.

Maintenance terminates on the death of either party and upon the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.  Family Code § 3.9607(a).

Maintenance also terminates “if the party receiving maintenance cohabits with another person in a permanent place of abode on a continuing, conjugal basis.”   A hearing is required.  Family Code § 3.9607(b).

Factors to Determine Maintenance

The court is supposed to consider all relevant factors in determining “the nature, amount, duration and manner of periodic payments,” including the following:

(1) the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently;

(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of that education or training, and the feasibility of that education or training;

(3) the duration of the marriage;

(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;

(5) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s personal needs and to provide periodic child support payments, if applicable, while meeting the personal needs of the spouse seeking maintenance;

(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;

(7) the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits, and the separate property of each spouse;

(8) the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;

(9) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse

Note from Lee

The copyright notice below would give you the impression that the material on this page belongs to me. It doesn’t. It belongs to Jimmy Verner, a lawyer at Verner & Brumley in Dallas who has agreed to allow me to share it with you.

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