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Alimony or Spousal Maintenance in Texas?

The Texas Family Code fails to include the term alimony.  Instead, Texas law provides for Spousal Maintenance.  So, understanding the difference between alimony or spousal maintenance in Texas helps to estimate post-divorce obligations.  Importantly, alimony remains a federal tax code concept.  On the other hand, Houston area judges order spousal maintenance under Texas law.

Both alimony and spousal maintenance consist of a monthly payment to an ex-spouse.  However, as federal law controls alimony, Texas agreed alimony remains a contract between divorcing spouses.  The primary difference between alimony versus spousal maintenance in Texas is the tax liability.  Alimony shift the tax liability from one ex-spouse to the other.  Importantly, seeking tax advice during the divorce process provides the best method to assess post-divorce finances.

Unlike a child support payment calculated on NET income, the Texas statute states that maintenance payments are 20% of average monthly GROSS income.   However, the law caps the payment amount.  It cannot be more than $5,000 OR 20% of gross income whichever is lower.

Clients must understand when spousal maintenance might apply.  The following circumstances may lead to a spousal maintenance order.

  • a marriage lasting at least 10 years;
  • one spouse fails to be able to earn sufficient income to meet minimum reasonable needs;
  • one spouse experiences an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
  • a child of the marriage requires substantial care;
  • one spouse perpetrated family violence.

Since 1980,  C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC, has focused on educating our clients and providing excellent service.  Divorce traumatizes almost everyone, so securing strong legal representation brings reassurance.  We provide free consultations, so contact us today at (281) 550-6650 to schedule your appointment. 

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