Texas law does not recognize the term alimony. It simply does not exist. In place of alimony a Texas court may award spousal maintenance, but only if the spouse from whom maintenance is requested has been convicted of family violence within two years before the divorce is filed; or the duration of the marriage was ten years or longer and the spouse seeking maintenance either: lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable minimum needs; or is unable to support him or herself through employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or is the custodian of a child which requires substantial care and supervision because of a physical or mental disability which makes it necessary that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
If the Court determines that a spouse is eligible for maintenance using the standards set out above, the following factors are then considered in determining the amount of the maintenance. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including both separate and community property liabilities. The spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently. The education and employment skills of the spouses is also considered. The time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment as well as the availability and feasibility of job skills training. The duration of the marriage and the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance is considered. Additionally the ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments, excessive or abnormal expenditures, concealment or destruction of any property by either spouse and the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property.
A common question deals with the contribution of one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse. A common example is the spouse who works while the other attends school to become a professional. After graduation the spouse who worked is suddenly on their own. The spouse that went to school wants to move on and enjoy their new status and income that they could not have achieved without the support of their spouse. The court can consider this when setting the amount of support.
Additionally the contribution of either spouse as a homemaker as well as any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance is a factor. The court will also consider the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to seek employment and the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation. The court will also consider any property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
Occasionally parties in a divorce will agree to alimony, even though none of the above factors apply, in consideration of other agreements reached in the process of negotiating their divorce. When this happens, the rules do not apply to their settlement. They may agree to whatever amount and number of payments they chose. With regard to alimony, as with other issues a couple may have, Courts generally approve agreements made by the parties to resolve their divorce.