When a couple in Texas gets a divorce, it is common for one spouse to pay maintenance, also referred to as alimony, to the other spouse. This can lead to disputes between the parties. The paying spouse might not want to support the other spouse indefinitely. The supported spouse could want the payments for an extended period of time. There could be disagreements as to how much the payments will be. There are many issues that could be part of the case when it is decided and even after the case is completed. Understanding state law regarding the duration of spousal maintenance is imperative to a case for both sides.
When deciding on the duration of spousal maintenance, the court cannot order it for more than five years after the date, if the couple was married for less than 10 years unless there is an establishment of maintenance based on family violence within two years of filing for divorce or while the case is pending and the spouse cannot earn enough to provide for reasonable needs because of a disability, or there is a child for whom the receiving spouse will be the custodial parent. It cannot go beyond five years if the couple was married for 10 years, but not more than 20 years.
It cannot go beyond seven years from the date the order was issued if the couple was married for at least 20 years, but the marriage did not go beyond 30 years. It will last for 10 years from the date of the order if the couple was married for 30 years or more. There will be a limit for how long spousal maintenance will last and it will be for the shortest reasonable amount of time so the receiving spouse can earn enough income for reasonable needs unless their ability is diminished because of being disabled, they are caring for a young child or an infant from the marriage or there is another compelling hindrance to earning enough to meet those needs.
A common topic for disagreement when a couple is divorcing is spousal support and its duration. Even if the law is clear on these matters, there is always room for negotiation and accounting for individual circumstances of any given divorce.
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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law