Spousal Support & Alimony
Alimony in Texas is divided into two distinct creatures:
- SPOUSAL SUPPORT (temporary alimony for the duration of the divorce), and
- SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE (alimony awarded once the divorce is concluded)
Spousal support is the temporary alimony during the duration of divorce. Either party can request it from the Court. Texas Family Code §6.502(a)(2). In order to get spousal support, you have to show that you are unable to pay the necessary expenses. In re Fuentes, S.W.3d 586, 539 (Tex.App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, orig. proceeding). The Court will normally require you to provide a Financial Information Statement, which is a type of standardized document which breaks down your income and expenses for the Court. It is also a good idea to show your accounts, bills, and invoices which back up the information in your Financial Information Statement.
In addition to not having an ability to your own necessary expenses, you’d have to show that your spouse whom you are divorcing has the ability to pay the amount sought by petitioner. Herschberg v. Herschberg, 994 S.W.2d 273, 278 (Tex.App. Corpus Christi 1999, pet. denied). This is often done by presenting shared accounts, documents received in discovery, or, subpoenaed documents which show the other party’s finances. The other party will normally have to file their own Financial Information Statement, but they may skew that statement in their favor, which is why it is good to use whatever accounts, documents received in discovery, or, subpoenaed documents you may have to controvert (i.e. challenge) the other party’s claims.
It is important to note that spousal support is not made to “equalize” the parties – if approved, it is only to the point of paying one’s necessary expenses. Herschberg v. Herschberg, 994 S.W.2d 273, 278 (Tex.App. Corpus Christi 1999, pet. denied). This means to help you make ends meet while the case is ongoing.
Because the requirements are so generalized, the Court has wide discretion in awarding spousal support. Cases where spousal support is most often awarded are when one party is a student and does not work, or where one party has had to leave the marital home due to no fault of their own. However, these are just two examples – every case is different.
Spousal maintenance is what we generally think of as “alimony” – permanent (so to speak) alimony after the divorce is finalized. In Texas, you’d have to show the following under Texas Family Code §8.051 to be awarded spousal maintenance:
- You are a spouse in this divorce;
- You lack property to meet minimum reasonable needs;
- You meet one of four statutory requirements for spousal maintenance (ten-year marriage, family violence, disability, or, disabled child)
The first element is self-explanatory – you can be a spouse in a formal marriage or a common-law (informal) marriage in Texas to request spousal maintenance.
The second element is less so – the Texas Family Code does not define “minimum reasonable needs.” As such, the Courts have ruled that this would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Howe v. Howe, 551 S.W.3d 236, 256 (Tex.App. – El Paso 2018, no pet.); Slicker v. Slicker, 464 S.W.3d 850, 860 (Tex.App. – Dallas 2015, no pet.). In the past, the Courts have looked at the following: ability to pay mortgage or rent, taxes, utilities, medical expenses, clothing, child care, transportation, and so on.
The third element is meeting one of four statutory requirements. This means that even if you satisfy the first two elements above, you must also show that the marriage has lasted ten years, or, that you have been a victim of family violence (against the spouse or child), or, you have a medical, physical, or mental disability making you unable to earn sufficient income, or, you will be custodian of a disabled child of the marriage once the divorce is over.
If the Court awards spousal maintenance, then the nature, amount, and duration are decided based on these factors under Texas Family Code §8.052:
(1) each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse’s financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;
(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
(3) the duration of the marriage;
(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(5) the effect on each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;
(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
(7) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(8) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(9) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(10) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and
(11) any history or pattern of family violence…
The Court also cannot award more than $5,000 per month, or, 20% of the paying party’s average gross income. Texas Family Code §8.055(a).
The duration of the spousal maintenance is summed up in the chart below:
|Length of Marriage
|Maximum Years of Alimony
|Less than 10 years
|5 years or less
|Married for 10+ years
|Between 10 – 20 years
|5 years or less
|Married for 10+ years
|Between 20 – 30 years
|7 years or less
|Married for 10+ years
|10 years or less
|Spouse is disabled
|[does not matter]
|As long as spouse is disabled
|Child is disabled
|[does not matter]
|As long as child is disabled
If you require an attorney to fight for you in regards to alimony, the attorneys at Ilionsky Law, PLLC are standing by to provide you with experienced counsel to expertly handle your matter from start to finish. Give us a call at (737) 637-2122 to discuss your options and how we may help you.
Affiliations and Recognitions
What Our Clients Are Saying
"Mr. Illionsky is a lawyer's lawyer and a true gentleman. He is prompt to respond and very succinct. His knowledge of the law is also extremely extensive and came to my aid in a county ordinance dispute. I’d recommend him in a heartbeat."
"Words cannot express how thankful I am to have had E.Z. take on my case. From the beginning of my case all the way to the end, he answered all of my questions, handled all obstacles, and defended at all times. You can say he is a Professional Bulldog in court! E.Z. took care of me and my family and we will always be thankful for his help! We highly, highly recommend E.Z! All the way!"
"I wish there was a way of giving him 10 stars. I have been working with E.Z for the last couple months and I have no complaints. He is tough but truthful 😀.If you are looking for an attorney that tells you exactly what you want to hear ...please skip him but if you are looking a real counsel that Says to you what you need to hear CALL HIM. HE IS A GOOD GUY."
"I was referred to Ilionsky Law and could not be happier with the service. E.Z. took my case on in a less than an optimal time frame, yet made me feel like I was in good hands throughout. There was excellent communication/responsiveness and counsel was straightforward with everything explained thoroughly (and with a lot of patience!). E.Z. was kind and thoughtful and I felt at ease knowing I had him going into the situation. I wholeheartedly would recommend this establishment!"
"Words cannot express the gratitude I feel toward Ilionsky, it was a blessing to have found him. Since the minute I was on the phone with him, I had nothing but total support and guidance. Had it not been for Ilionsky, I probably would have lost my case and my sanity, to be honest. He was always reachable, communicative, smart, straightforward, confident, and extremely competent. He is a truly compassionate human being, who cared for my case as if I was part of his family. Putting my trust in him was the best decision I have made. I felt confident and secure with him on my side through the whole case, not once did I doubt him. I know it's you said you are just doing your job, but it's my life- and I feel you went above and beyond and I just want to express my appreciation."
"Can I just say Thank God, for amazing attorneys that really care for you as a person and as a client, EZ Llionsky was understanding, attentive , help you fight for what is right. He is straight forward there is no bull ____ , my family and I are just very grateful that we found him.. I can not say it enough but Thank You so much!"
"EZ and his staff provided excellent service. He constantly went out of his way to make sure that my case was being handling properly. He genuinely cares about the case and more importantly making sure your okay during the process. His "go-get em'" attitude is something you want from a lawyer and that was the key to the outcome in my case. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND choosing Ilionsky Law firm for and legal matter!"
"Very happy with this firm's services. Always kept me up to date on all developments, was always very patient and explained everything to me so I can make all the decision so I felt in control of my divorce. My ex settled just to avoid his deposition because he was afraid of my lawyer. LOL."
"I can't say Thank you enough!!! to attorney Ilionsky. He represented me in a custody case. Being a single mom on a fixed budget, I was thinking I couldn't afford good legal representation. I was wrong attorney Ilionsky is an AMAZING ATTORNEY! He is fair, honest and cares about his clients. He is not out to take your money and charge you for every little thing. My case dragged on for a little over a year. Through out that time I never felt that he didn't have my best interest. I can't say these things about many attorneys but I can say that about him. He CARES and I would definitely use him again if I need too."