Factors affecting Permanent Alimony Payments

Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, depending on circumstances, is an aspect of divorce that is often referred to in satires because it generates a quasi-comical response in American audiences. It is something that many people vaguely believe is forever. It may happen that one spouse may agree to continue to support the other spouse for an agreed period of time in a divorce settlement, which would make it spousal support. Otherwise, alimony may be ordered by the court, which would make it spousal maintenance. The trend nowadays, however, is for the courts to award no alimony, or to grant it on a limited basis if it is so warranted.

In Texas, there are two kinds of alimony: temporary and permanent. According to an article found on the website of Woodlands-based law firm BB Law Group PLLC, temporary alimony may be awarded to one spouse while the divorce is ongoing if there is a significant disparity in the financial resources of the spouses, and the requesting spouse can provide proof of necessity. This is to provide the requesting spouse time to adjust to a changed standard of living. Once the divorce is finalized, the temporary alimony ceases.

In some cases, even after the divorce is finalized, the court may order the more affluent spouse to pay spousal maintenance if one of the following factors applies:

  • Conviction of the paying spouse of domestic violence within a two-year period from the date the divorce was first filed
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years and the requesting spouse does not have the resources to adequately meet basic needs and has custody of a dependent child who needs constant supervision
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years and the requesting spouse does not have the resources to adequately meet basic needs or the capacity for gainful employment due to lack of employable skills
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years and the requesting spouse does not have the resources to adequately meet basic needs or the capacity for gainful employment due to a qualified disability
  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years and the requesting spouse has custody of a disabled child

When the requesting spouse qualifies under any of these factors, permanent alimony may be granted. However, except for the last two cases, the payment period will not exceed three years. Under the last scenario, the requesting spouse may be eligible to receive alimony for up to 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage and the duration of the disability.

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