3 Important Facts about Texas Alimony and Spousal Support

Many individuals going through divorce are apprehensive about the idea of being required to pay a burdensome amount of money each month to their ex-spouse for alimony. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, our Houston divorce attorneys represent clients for alimony and spousal support matters throughout the greater Houston area. Contact us to secure experienced legal representation.

Houston Spousal Support Attorneys

You may have heard that there is no “alimony” in Texas. While it is true that there is no statutory or common law spousal payment called “alimony” in this state, there are three spousal payment types in Texas that are similar to the concept of alimony in other states:

  1. Temporary Spousal Support
  2. Spousal Maintenance
  3. Contractual Alimony

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is an equitable remedy that is often ordered by the court after a temporary orders hearing. The general purpose of temporary spousal support is to serve as a gap-filler between the amount of necessary monthly expenses of the nonpaying spouse, and the other income sources available to him or her.

When couples divorce, they must make two households where only one existed before. One spouse is likely to lack their own resources to pay for their new household. If the court finds that one spouse does not have sufficient assets to meet his or her necessary monthly expenses, and that the other spouse has enough resources to pay extra, it is likely that the spouse with greater assets will be ordered to pay temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is a statutory remedy created by the Texas legislature that allows for a court to award payments to a spouse after divorce for a brief period of time under very limited circumstances. The legal remedy of spousal maintenance is codified in Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code.

Generally, spousal maintenance is ordered when one spouse can show to the court that he or she cannot support themselves because of a physical or mental disability. Another circumstance in which the court may order spousal maintenance is when one spouse clearly lacks the ability to provide for his or her necessary monthly expenses because he or she is taking care of a child who has special needs. Even in the limited circumstance where a court does order spousal maintenance, the period of time the payments must be made will be restricted according to the relevant statutes and the discretion of the court. Spousal maintenance payments ordered under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code are enforceable by contempt and may be subject to a wage withholding order issued to the paying spouse’s employer.

Contractual Alimony

A person going through divorce may agree to make regular payments to the other spouse as contractual alimony as part of the property settlement. This type of agreement is referred to as contractual alimony. While courts in Texas do not usually order a spouse to make spousal maintenance payments to the other, it is fairly common for a final agreement to include a contractual alimony provision. There are a variety of reasons entering into such an agreement, but one common one is to equalize the division of marital property while providing one spouse with a steady income stream and the paying spouse with a potential tax benefit.

Alimony under the Internal Revenue Code

The term “alimony” also has a meaning for tax purposes under the Internal Revenue Code. In general, payments considered alimony under the definition in the Internal Revenue Code are taxable as income to the person receiving the payments and tax deductible to the person making the payments

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