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Understanding spousal support in a Texas divorce

If a couple is considering divorce or is already in the process, the spouses must make several considerations. Financial stability and support is usually a large component of the asset division process.

Whether a spouse is looking to receive or may have to pay, there are a few key things that he or she should know about how the courts determine spousal support.

Eligibility

Texas Family Code chapter 8 fully details the parameters for spousal support after a divorce, including eligibility. In the state of Texas, there are strict qualifications. Unless the spouse has a conviction for family violence, the court automatically assumes that the other spouse does not qualify for support. However, if spouses requesting support can show a lack of capacity to obtain income to sustain basic needs, then they may meet the requirements.

Amount

When determining the amount of the support payments, the courts look at a few different factors. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Age
  • Contributions to the family as a homemaker
  • Infidelity

These are just a few of the many aspects of the couple's circumstances that the court may consider. After reviewing these and others, the court makes a decision. By law, the amount awarded cannot exceed $5,000 or 20 percent of the paying party's income.

Timeframe

Depending upon the length of the marriage and how the individuals meet the eligibility requirements, they may receive different amounts of support. For example, a spouse who is divorcing after 10 years or fewer may receive up to five years of support, while people who were married for over 30 years may receive support indefinitely, as long as they maintain their eligibility status. 

Even though there are strict stipulations for gaining spousal support, spouses may be able to decide an amount between themselves, which a judge will usually accept. Otherwise, they can expect to go through the court process to determine the right amount.

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