Are you expecting to get paid alimony as a result of your divorce? Here’s what to know about (and how to fight for) alimony in Texas:
11% of Texan women are divorced, and most people assume that nearly all of them receive alimony.
Yet very few of them do. This is because alimony in Texas is regulated by many laws and practices. If you’re preparing to fight for alimony, you need to know a lot of facts.
What are the laws that regulate alimony? How does the court determine who pays alimony and by how much? How can you negotiate for alimony with your ex?
Answer these questions and you can get the payments from your ex that you deserve. Here is your quick guide.
The Basics of Alimony in Texas
Alimony is a payment that a spouse makes to their ex as a part of their divorce process. It’s independent of child support. It goes directly to the ex so they cover their basic needs, like food and housing.
Not every divorce leads to alimony. The court must look at several factors before determining that it’s necessary.
The court must determine that the spouse requesting alimony cannot support themselves. They can have money or a place to live, but they won’t be able to meet their needs long-term.
The court then must find one of several factors. The first is a history of family violence. The spouse that would be responsible for alimony must pay if they were convicted of an act within two years of the divorce filing.
The second is a disability. The court will award alimony if the requesting spouse has a significant physical or mental disability. They don’t have to be on disability benefits for the court to recognize them.
The court can award alimony if the requesting parent has custody of a disabled child. They must be involved in their child’s care so extensively that they cannot hold a job.
The third is a long-term marriage. The couple must have had a marriage lasting over a decade. The requesting spouse may have retired, so they don’t have the ability to make money.
You may hear the terms “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” These are alternative and interchangeable terms for alimony.
How Courts Determine Amounts
Once the court determines that alimony payments are necessary, they’ll evaluate the alimony amount. The state law on alimony lays out several factors in determining the amount.
The court will look at each spouse’s ability to provide for themselves and the other spouse. Both spouses may struggle to cover their basic needs. If that’s the case, payments may be small.
They’ll look at the education and employment histories of the spouses. A spouse may be able to return to work if they get some training. If that’s the case, payments may be small too.
The court will look at how each spouse treats property. They can look at any excessive purchases that the two parties have made. They can also adjust alimony depending on criminal convictions for property destruction or fraud.
They can look at how much property each spouse brought to the marriage. The requesting spouse may be unable to make money, but they may have had some in the past.
In addition to domestic violence, the court can examine marital misconduct. They can take adultery into account.
There’s no formula that the court looks to. They approach alimony on a case-by-case basis as much as possible.
The Different Types of Payments
Once the court has found an amount, they’ll determine a type of payment. Temporary spousal support applies to payments made before the divorce process ends. The requesting spouse must demonstrate a pressing financial need.
Contractual alimony is an alimony agreement that both spouses agree to. A court must approve their statement before the spouses put it into action. They can change the terms if they feel a need to.
Court-ordered spousal maintenance is an order from the court. It may be involuntary, but the spouse who pays must submit to it.
Court orders are limited by law. A judge cannot force a spouse to pay more than $5,000 a month or 20% of their monthly gross income. They will not pay for longer than 10 years.
How to Negotiate Alimony
It’s essential that you turn to a lawyer for help before you start negotiating alimony. Even if you have a good case, it’s difficult to argue your side in front of a judge.
Provide as many details as possible about your finances. Hand over your resume, bank statements, and credit history. Try to track how much you spend and stop spending on unnecessary items.
If possible, pinpoint an exact amount you’d like to be paid for. You should also try to find a timeframe you’ll need payments for. The more precise you are, the more credible you’ll seem to a judge.
You should try to talk to your ex about your financial needs. Working out an agreement with them is always a good idea. Put into writing any terms that you agree to.
If they refuse to pay you anything, stand your ground. Maintain that you need money to cover your needs. Get them to come down to your preferred price instead of the other way around.
When you go in front of a judge, talk directly to them. Incorporate as many legal terms into your answer as possible. This makes you seem professional and focused on yourself.
Alimony isn’t supposed to be punitive. Maintain that your ex can cover your expenses. Focus on what the money would do for you and how you can use it to launch your independent life.
Turn to Help for Alimony and Divorce
It’s hard to get alimony in Texas. The court must determine that the requesting spouse requires it. They must be unable to meet their basic needs.
The court then investigates the backgrounds of both spouses to determine the amount. Both spouses can negotiate rates, or the court can impose payments.
Determine how much money you need. Find a precise amount you want. Have a dialogue with your ex and try to come to an agreement.
Get help from an expert alimony and divorce lawyer. Johnson, Zegen, Scott & Williams PLLC serves the Dallas area. Contact us today.