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How Long Does Alimony Last in Texas?

In many marriages, spouses have unequal earning power. One spouse is the main breadwinner, while the other one might raise children or support their spouse’s career without earning a paycheck themselves. After divorce, the lower-earning spouse can suffer terrible financial stress. Helpfully, Texas law allows our clients to seek alimony as part of their divorce, which is also called “maintenance.” Contact Tad Nelson & Associates if you have questions. Our Galveston & League City family law attorney provides an overview of how long you can receive alimony.

Do You Even Qualify for Alimony?

Spouses can negotiate alimony as part of their divorce settlement. But this article considers when judges will award alimony at the request of one spouse.

The bad news: Judges do not have a free hand to award alimony whenever they want. Instead, the law strictly limits alimony to certain situations. A spouse can receive alimony only if you can’t pay for their minimum needs after divorce and:

  • You’ve been married at least 10 years; or
  • Your spouse has committed domestic violence; or
  • You have a mental or physical disability that is incapacitating; or
  • You will be unable to work because you will care for a child with a disability.

How Long Can You Receive Alimony?

Texas also limits the duration of alimony. In some states, a judge might award permanent alimony, which could last indefinitely. That is the exception in Texas.

The duration of alimony in the Longhorn State will depend on the length of your marriage:

  • Married 0-10 years: no alimony
  • Married for 10-20 years: 5 years of alimony
  • Married for 20-30 years: 7 years of alimony
  • Married 30+ years: 10 years of alimony

If you were married for less than 10 years, you will not receive alimony unless you show your spouse committed family violence, in which case you can receive 5 years of alimony payments. Otherwise, you will be out of luck.

There are some exceptions to this timetable. For example, an ex who has a physical or mental disability could receive alimony for the duration of their disability, which might be for the remainder of their life. A spouse who is raising a young child could also receive alimony until their child reaches adulthood or, if the child is disabled, for as long as they take care of the child.

When Does Alimony Terminate Early?

Alimony typically comes with an expiration date. However, your alimony can end early if:

  • The paying spouse dies
  • You get married again
  • You are living with someone else in a romantic relationship

How to Improve Your Odds of Receiving Alimony

Texas puts hurdles in the way of anyone asking for alimony. Still, it’s possible to request and receive alimony if you work closely with your divorce lawyer to:

  • Calculate your living expenses and the value of your property after divorce. You want to show that you cannot afford to pay for your minimum needs, including food and shelter.
  • Document any physical or mental disability. For example, you might be so physically disabled that you can’t leave the house or have a mental illness which prevents you from working.
  • Prove domestic violence. Someone who is married for less than 10 years might receive alimony if their spouse was convicted of domestic violence or received deferred adjudication. The offense must have happened while the divorce was pending or within 2 years of the date the divorce petition was filed.

After a judge finds that alimony is warranted, they determine the amount and duration. Remember, the timetables above represent the maximum duration of alimony—a judge could order alimony for a shorter time.

Our lawyers help prove the relevant factors that a judge considers, found at Section 8.052 of the Texas Family Code, including your education and employment skills, as well as your contribution to your spouse’s education or career. For example, you might have worked to put your spouse through college. Other factors include marital misconduct, such as cruelty or adultery, as well as hiding assets.

Let Us Review Your Options

Texas makes it hard for spouses to request maintenance. Still, you have options. Your divorce lawyer might negotiate alimony as part of a divorce. We can also collect evidence to convince a judge that alimony is warranted under the law.

Call Tad Nelson & Associates today. Our League City and Galveston divorce lawyers work closely with clients to ensure they hit the ground running after obtaining a divorce decree. We can review whether it makes sense to request alimony in your divorce.