How long can I receive alimony?

While a couple is married, especially if the marriage has lasted years, the spouses get used to a certain standard of living, and one of them may have given up their jobs. So, when the marriage ends, one of the spouses, generally, the one who no longer is active in the workforce, will have problems maintaining the same standard of living. One of the ways courts rectify this financial imbalance is by ordering one partner to support the other through alimony payments.

Even if a one partner agrees to alimony after a divorce, the other party must demonstrate their eligibility for it. In Texas, this means they cannot afford their minimum reasonable needs, in addition to either the paying spouse's conviction for an act of family violence during the marriage, but five years within the divorce or while the divorce is pending. Or, the receiving spouse is unable to meet their sufficient needs for enumerated reasons. Those reasons include a physical or mental disability or that the spouse is the custodian of a child who needs exceptional care or that the marriage lasted longer than 10 years.

Once it is demonstrated that the individual is eligible to receive alimony, the court determines the amount and duration. It is important to note that there is a cap on the amount -- the court awards the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the paying spouse's income.

In addition to this, awards are generally awarded for marriages that lasted longer than 10 years -- for marriages lesser than 10 years, the award is only granted if the paying partner was abusive. Therefore, alimony will last a maximum of 5 years, if the marriage was 10-20 years long, 7 years if the marriage was between 20-30 years long and up to 10 years if the marriage was longer than 30 years. Alimony may only be indefinite if the receiving spouse is taking care of a disabled child or disabled themselves.

Given the stringent requirements of alimony in Texas, it is important to understand how to demonstrate eligibility and get the documentation ready in the first instance. It may be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to ensure one gets the alimony they deserve to sufficiently meet their needs.