Here in Austin and in the rest of Texas, alimony is called spousal maintenance. However, it’s intended to be rehabilitative in nature.
What does that mean to you?
Let’s assume that one spouse has put their career on hold to raise children while the other spouse continued working. After the divorce, the spouse that had been out of the workforce might need to get a job. Unfortunately, they might need additional education or job training. The spousal maintenance is intended to help support the person long enough for them to develop marketable job skills.
Spousal maintenance is awarded in a very limited number of circumstances:
- If the parties have been married for 10 years or more AND the person that wants to receive support payments doesn’t have enough money to take care of himself or herself AND they are unable to get a job because of one of the following reasons:
- The person is disabled; or
- The person must take care of a child with special needs; or
- The person clearly lacks the ability to earn enough money to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
- If the person that would be paying spousal maintenance has pled guilty to a crime for family violence within 2 years of the divorce or on probation for a crime of family violence.
Spousal maintenance can only be awarded for a maximum of 3 years. However, if the person receiving support payments is disabled, then the payments can continue until the disability goes away.
The maximum spousal maintenance amount is either of the two following:
- $2,500 per month;
- 20% of the average monthly gross income of the person paying spousal maintenance.
The other way that spousal maintenance can be awarded is by agreement. In this case, it’s called contractual alimony or contractual spousal maintenance. Contractual alimony isn’t limited in terms of how much the payments are or how long the payments will be made.
Additionally, spousal maintenance (whether court ordered or contractual) is generally taxable to the person that receives it and it is generally a tax deduction for the person that pays it. However, we are not accountants and you should consult your own accountant to confirm how paying or receiving spousal maintenance payments would affect you.