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Alimony in Family Law: Types, Calculations, and Modification

How to initiate, enforce, and modify an alimony arrangement in Texas depends on whether there is court-ordered spousal support or a provision of a marital settlement agreement that you and your spouse reached during divorce mediation.

Most things are bigger in Texas, but not alimony. Compared to the sheer vastness of the state, the excess of our county fair foods, and the charisma of our musical performers, the divorce and alimony laws seem quite moderate and restrained. Texas is among a growing number of states where court-ordered alimony awards have an automatic end date. No matter how long the couple was married, the court will not order permanent alimony unless the recipient spouse has a permanent disability. As with many other family law matters, such as parenting time and possession of the marital home after divorce, it is not usually the court that sets the duration and amount of alimony. Instead, the court usually signs off on a marital settlement agreement (MSA), which the spouses draft during divorce mediation. The Fort Worth divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help you and your spouse reach a fair agreement about alimony during mediation or persuade the judge to make a fair decision at trial.

Court-Ordered Spousal Support

Texas is one of about 10 states, all west of the Mississippi River, that still follow the doctrine of community property in divorce cases, but Texas has its own court-ordered alimony laws that proceed from the premise of community property. According to Texas law, if a judge determines the division of property at trial, as opposed to the parties dividing it pursuant to an MSA, the court must divide the marital property evenly in half. Therefore, even if one spouse was out of the workforce for the duration of the marriage, getting half of the marital property and reentering the workforce should adequately provide for the lower-income spouse. The court has the right to award alimony, but no matter how high the paying spouse’s income is, the maximum amount of court-ordered spousal support Texas courts can order is $5,000 per month. To modify or enforce a court-ordered spousal support obligation, you can petition the court to show that you have suffered an involuntary reduction in income or that your ex-spouse has not obeyed the court order.

Contractual Alimony in Texas

If you and your spouse agree to an alimony award as part of your MSA, the court will enforce it just like any other contract signed between private individuals. If your ex-spouse does not pay the alimony they agreed to pay in the MSA, then the resulting legal action will proceed like a breach of contract lawsuit.

Contact the Fort Worth Law Office of Kyle Whitaker About Spousal Support Issues in TX

If you want to reach a fair agreement about contractual alimony in your MSA, you need a family law attorney. Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss your case.