Alimony Attorney in The Woodlands, TX Works for Fair Spousal Maintenance Awards

Experienced divorce lawyer negotiates and litigates key financial issues

Although alimony is a common term used for spousal support, a Texas court will not order alimony. Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code sets rules for spousal maintenance, which the court can order if a party to a divorce meets the requirements. Alimony in Texas is contractual, meaning the couple can negotiate an agreement whereby one spouse makes payments to the other. Such an agreement can facilitate an overall marital settlement agreement, and is often appropriate in lieu of an order for spousal maintenance or in addition to it. At the Law Office of Jerry Porter, we represent payors and payees in alimony negotiations, as well as in court hearings, to determine spousal maintenance. I have the knowledge and experience to advocate aggressively for your financial interests, so you can enjoy financial security in your life after divorce.

Texas requirements for Chapter 8 spousal maintenance

Until recently, Texas divorce law had no provision at all for spousal maintenance. The new rule in Chapter 8 is very restrictive, limiting payments to situations where:

  • The marriage lasted 10 years or more, one spouse has insufficient wealth to be self-supporting, and the spouse is:
    • unable to be self-supporting due to physical or mental incapacity, or
    • unable to work outside the home due to caring for a child with physical or mental incapacity, or
    • lacks the earning capacity to be self-supporting
  • The other spouse committed family violence.

Spousal maintenance in Texas is meant to be rehabilitative; courts may order it for a brief duration until the recipient spouse develops the skills to be self-supporting or is relieved of caretaker duties as the children mature. The length of the order depends on the duration of the marriage, starting at a maximum of five years for couples married from 10 to 20 years. Moreover, even in a high net-worth divorce, the maximum amount of maintenance a court can order is $5,000 per month.

Reasons to negotiate contractual alimony

Texas law clearly favors the top earner in the marriage, who is often the husband. A stay-at-home mother may have an excellent case for spousal maintenance, but it may be woefully inadequate to maintain a household, even when combined with child support. The answer for the wife in this instance would be to contract for alimony. But what are the incentives for a husband to pay more than the law compels him to? Factors an obligor spouse might consider include:

  • Good relations with the children — Children may not take kindly to a parent who has the means to maintain the other at the comfortable standard of living, but flat-out refuses.
  • Tying contractual alimony to residency in the family home — A custodial parent can make a strong case for relocation with the children if that’s the only way to earn a decent living. Contractual alimony can subsidize a struggling custodial parent and keep the children close by.
  • Tax considerations — Contractual alimony is tax deductible for the payor, but is taxed as income to the recipient. Recipients usually pay a lower rate, so there is often a significant net savings.

Depending on a couple’s circumstances, contractual alimony can solve many issues as part of an overall marital settlement agreement. It can also be a good idea for spouses to negotiate terms for contractual alimony in prenuptial agreements.

Contact a Texas divorce attorney who knows spousal maintenance and contractual alimony

Whether you are the primary earner or a dependent spouse, you need capable representation on the issues of spousal maintenance and alimony. I have more than 25 years of experience.  I handle complex divorce litigation and am determined to assist my clients in this vitally important area. If you are in The Woodlands, Montgomery County or the greater Houston area, call 346.333.1835 or contact the Law Office of Jerry Porter online to schedule a consultation.