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Understanding the basics of alimony

Many Texas couples who are considering divorcing have questions about alimony. Alimony, or spousal support, isn't automatic or ordered by the court system in every case. However, if your spouse requests support, and a judge decides to award it, you may have to pay for years. 

The court has the final say in how long someone may need to make payments to his or her ex-spouse. To understand how long you may have to pay alimony, you'll need to become more familiar with the different types of alimony that the courts often award.

Temporary alimony

Judges often award temporary alimony in divorce cases that are still in progress. Once the court has made a final judgment, permanent spousal support payments will replace the temporary ones.

Permanent alimony

Permanent alimony is just what it sounds like. A person pays this type of alimony periodically or monthly until a judge determines an end date or:

  • The supported party remarries.
  • One or both spouses pass away
  • The supported spouse cohabitates.

Permanent alimony may also end if a significant event happens, such as the supported spouse begins a high-paying job, or the paying spouse retires.

Rehabilitative alimony

If a supported spouse is expected to become financially self-sufficient in the future, the court may award rehabilitative alimony payments. These spousal support payments can last for however long it takes for the receiving party to recover financially and become self-supporting.

As with most matters pertaining to divorce, you and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement regarding spousal support payments on your own. Otherwise, you'll need to schedule a hearing with the court, and a judge will set the terms for you. A divorce attorney may help you file a formal motion with the court.

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