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Understanding the basics of spousal support

Many Texas couples who are considering divorce wonder about the possibility of spousal support. Neither temporary spousal support nor longer-lasting spousal maintenance are automatic, and they are not ordered in every case.

The court has the final say in how long someone may need to make payments to his or her former spouse. To understand how long support may last in your case, it will help to become more familiar with the different types of spousal support available in Texas.

Temporary spousal support

Judges can award temporary spousal support in divorce cases that are still in progress. Such awards are designed to maintain the status quo of the parties until the proceedings conclude. Temporary support is based on need, and it is not appropriate for every couple.

Spousal maintenance

Once a divorce has been finalized, the spousal support paid throughout the dissolution may transition into longer-lasting maintenance. That being said, spousal maintenance is generally meant to be temporary and rehabilitative in nature. Qualification for spousal maintenance depends on the length of the marriage as well as the reasonable needs of the party requesting support. Unless exigent circumstances exist, it typically lasts no more than 10 years.

Contractual alimony

Though Texas is generally a “no-alimony” state, it is possible for divorcing spouses to contractually agree to a support settlement. In such a contract, the parties can decide upon the length of time payments will happen and the amount of payments. They could even include terms under which the alimony will end early. Such terms could include remarriage of the recipient spouse or job loss of the paying spouse, among others.

As with most matters pertaining to divorce, you and your spouse could always 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. Your divorce attorney can help you file a formal motion with the court.


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