Texas does not recognize “alimony” in the traditional sense.  Instead, Courts in Texas may from time to time order a spouse to pay “spousal maintenance,” whose purpose is “to provide temporary and rehabilitative support for a spouse” – most commonly, for a spouse who has not worked during the course of a 10-year marriage (or who cannot, at the time of divorce, meet his or her reasonable needs without time for employment training or improvement). 

The rules governing spousal maintenance have recently changed.  Now, such payments may be available not only to a spouse who lacks sufficient assets and wage-earning abilities to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs, but also to a spouse who has been the victim of family violence, who is disabled, or who will be the caregiver to a child who is disabled.

Things to remember about spousal maintenance include:

  • Generally, maintenance payments terminate on the death of either party; when the Payee remarries; and when the Payee lives with a new partner on a continuing conjugal basis;
  • Spousal maintenance may – and often will -- be limited in terms of amount and duration, as defined by the Family Code;
  • Spousal maintenance payments are taxable to the Payee and deductible by the Payor;
  • It is perfectly legal for the husband and wife to agree to non-Court ordered, contractual alimony payments.