Texas Alimony Law Changes September 1, 2011

Big Changes in Texas Alimony Statutes

By Marissa Balius

The word “alimony” often evokes strong emotions for people who are facing a divorce. For those paying alimony it may feel like a penalty for staying in a tortured marriage as long as they did. For those receiving alimony it may feel more like a punishment for all the years spent staying home to take care of the kids instead of pursuing a career.

Although alimony in Texas (which is referred to as “Spousal Maintenance”) has historically been considered remedial in nature and scope, big changes are coming, effective September 1 of this year.

While someone seeking alimony still has to meet the threshold requirement of showing that he or she does not have sufficient property and income to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs, there have been some changes in who qualifies for spousal maintenance, the duration of a alimony order and the amount that can be ordered. Now it’s up to the judges in Texas to objectively apply the law to the facts in each case.

Some of the highlights of the new statutes that will take effect for cases filed on or after September 1, 2011 are:

  • Removal of the 10-year marriage requirement for eligibility in limited circumstances.
  • Increasing the cap on the amount of alimony that can be ordered to the lesser of 20% of a spouse’s gross monthly income or $5000 per month.
  • Increasing the maximum duration of spousal maintenance payments from three years to a sliding scale of five to ten years depending on the length of marriage.

Marissa Balius is an experienced family law litigator with sixteen years of experience, and a Partner at Albin | Harrison | Roach. including ten years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Child Support Division. If you have questions about whether or how these changes to the law may affect your rights, please call or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.

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