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That is one of the reasons the Texas legislature makes it tough for a spouse in Texas to get court ordered spousal maintenance. In September 2011 Texas substantially changed the eligibility rules for court ordered spousal maintenance.

Under the new law the spouse must first prove that after divorce (meaning after the division of assets and liabilities) there will not be enough property (including separate property) to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs (which usually means the spouse’s monthly expenses).

Alimony can be an attractive and creative settlement tool in mediation that can keep more money in the family's collective pocket and out of Uncle Sam's.

Texas has two types of spousal maintenance (alimony): “court ordered” and “contractual”.“Court ordered spousal maintenance” is the kind a family judge can order a spouse to pay involuntarily.

Please take all of these factors into consideration if you are thinking about pursuing court ordered alimony.

Generally, court ordered maintenance must be limited to the shortest reasonable time that allows the receiving spouse to earn enough money to meet monthly expenses unless the spouse has a mental or physical disability, is caring for an infant or young child, or there is some other compelling reason the spouse cannot provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. There are restrictions in the law for how long a judge can require a spouse to pay court ordered maintenance in Texas. It is very important to understand that even if a spouse is successful in persuading a judge to award court ordered maintenance, and even though the court can enforce that order by contempt (fine or jail time), it still is not a done deal.

In Texas, spousal maintenance ("alimony") is additional money (not part of a division of marital property or child support) that one spouse pays to the other temporarily from future income to support the ex-spouse after the divorce.

If this money is also paid before the divorce is finalized, it is called “temporary spousal support”.

That spouse may feel deserving of compensation after divorce for sacrificing his or her own education and job to raise the family and support the other’s career.

For the spouse contemplating paying alimony, it can be equally challenging to think about supporting the ex-spouse over and above child support and the divorce settlement if the ex did not contribute earnings during the marriage.

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Why is court-ordered spousal maintenance limited in Texas?

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