Differentiating Between Maintenance and Alimony in Texas

For a person who is going through divorce proceedings, the complexities associated with the process can be daunting. There are a number of dimensions that need to be fully understood by each party before an amicable resolution can be reached. One of the points involved in divorce proceedings centers around the topic of alimony. Alimony is a term that refers to a legal obligation levied on a person to provide financial support to his or her spouse after divorce or marital separation. For a long time in Texas, alimony was considered to be incompatible with the community property system and it wasn’t a permanent part of court proceedings until 1995.

Before alimony became a permanent part of divorce proceedings, people going through a divorce in Texas had to create written agreements that expressed future support of a spouse. These written agreements were then incorporated into the divorce decree. While Texas at the time did not enforce alimony, this agreement was not voided because it was categorized as a contractual obligation and could be enforced under the law of contracts. This form of spousal support is called maintenance. There is a need to make a clear distinction between alimony and maintenance before a person formally enters divorce proceedings.

In Texas, to be eligible to receive spousal maintenance, the Petitioning spouse must prove one of the four statutory bases for maintenance:

1.   At least a ten (10) year marriage and the inability to earn sufficient income;

2.   Claim based on family violence;

3.   Claim based on Petitioning Spouse’s disability which includes the inability to earn sufficient income;

4.   Claim based on care for a disabled child which would prevent the Petitioning spouse from earning sufficient income.

The extent of the maintenance that is afforded to a party will be dictated by the court. This includes the nature, manner, and amount of support that the obligated party should produce. The cap for the duration of a spousal-maintenance order will depend on the length of the marriage, the ground upon which the Court orders maintenance, or a combination of both.

Contacting a lawyer can dispel a great amount of confusion associated with divorce proceedings. Contact Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC by calling 512-215-5225 for help with your legal issues.