There are only two types of spousal support in Texas: court-ordered spousal support or so-called “contractual alimony.”
Spousal support in Texas is court-ordered, which is the closest you can get to what you probably picture when you think of alimony or spousal support. In this case, the judge will consider a variety of factors about the couple and their marriage and decide:
- If spousal support is even reasonable
- How much support should be and
- How long should the support last
Texas treats spousal support differently than many states in several ways. For one, Texas places strict limits on how much support a spouse can receive. Regardless of how much the paying spouse makes, the support can never exceed $5,000 per month or 20% of their average monthly income, whichever is less.
Texas spousal support limits are related to the way Texas divides property during a divorce. Texas is a so-called “community property” state, meaning that all assets of the marriage are divided more or less equally between spouses. This theoretically compensates for the different earning opportunities between two spouses.
Texas is also restricting spousal support to encourage as many people as possible to be active in the workforce. There is a belief that long-term spousal support could discourage someone who is able to support themselves from doing so.
Getting court-ordered spousal support—as you’ll see in the next section—is quite difficult in Texas. A much easier way to get support during a divorce, and the method of getting support favored by Texas courts, is for the couple to simply consent.
Probably easier said than done, agreeing to spousal support is what is known in Texas as alimony. The court will generally be happy to sign off on something that both parties agree to.
However, as the name suggests, the agreement to pay contractual maintenance is a contract. This means if the payer stops paying, the judge can only use contractual or financial remedies. If the payments are stopped, the recipient can sue.
With court-ordered support, however, failure to keep up with payments can result in the court disregarding the charge – which means failure to pay your court-ordered alimony could land you with a criminal record.