Call Us Today 713-225-6200
Ramos Law Group Mary E. Ramos selected as a Texas Super Lawyer
Ramos Law Group is Houstons Top Lawyer awards from 2015-2020
Ramos Law Group Board Certified: Texas board of legal specialization award for family law
Ramos Law Group A plus rating in the BBB
Ramos Law Group is part of the Texas Bar College
Ramos Law Group won best divorce lawyers in Houston 2022 award
Ramos Law Group 10.0 rating on avvo

Alimony – Spousal Maintenance and Support

Get the Spousal Support and Maintenance You Deserve

In a divorce, one party may request a monthly alimony payment, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support. Alimony is usually made by one spouse to another after the finalization of a divorce.

There are two types of maintenance: chapter 8 alimony, or spousal maintenance, and contractual support. Chapter 8 alimony references the section of the Texas Family Code establishing eligibility and is usually court ordered. Contractual spousal support is based on the agreement of the spouses.

If you have questions about spousal maintenance and support options and eligibility in Texas, reach out to a knowledgeable Houston spousal maintenance lawyer at the Ramos Law Group. We specialize in family law matters, and our founder is a Texas board certified family law attorney.

What Are the Qualifications for Receiving Alimony?

In order to qualify for court ordered support, the spouse in need of alimony must meet the statutory requirements, including:

  • That they are a spouse.
  • That they lack the ability to provide for their own reasonable needs.
  • They meet ONE of the four statutory requirements below:
    • The spouses have been married for at least 10 years, and the spouse seeking alimony does not have the ability to support themselves.
    • The other spouse was convicted of family violence within the two years prior to a suit being filed.
    • The spouse is unable to provide for themselves due to an incapacitating mental or physical disability.
    • The spouse is unable to provide for themselves because they are providing care for a disabled child of the marriage.

With spousal maintenance, the court can order support without either spouse’s consent or approval.

How Long Will One Spouse Be Ordered to Pay Spousal Support?

The length of your marriage typically determines alimony and support. It is limited to the shortest reasonable amount of time, but if the support is based on the disability of the spouse or of the child, then there is no time limit. Here are some guidelines for the length of spousal maintenance:

  • Married between 10 and 20 years—Alimony for no more than 5 years.
  • Married between 20 and 30 years—Alimony for no more than 7 years.
  • Married 30 years or more—Alimony for no more than 10 years.

Be aware that spousal maintenance can end before the court-ordered termination in several situations. The four situations are:

  • Either party passes away;
  • The spouse receiving the support remarries;
  • The supported spouse cohabitates with someone who they are involved in a romantic relationship with; or
  • The court reviews and amends the existing order.

The court awards the shortest amount of time possible for spousal maintenance, so the spouse can become self-supporting as quickly as possible. The court may deviate from this under certain circumstances. For example, if the recipient spouse has a mental or physical disability, the court could determine that a short time period is not proper.

Divorce – Think of the children

Work on being flexible with the other parent.

Uncontested Divorce

The importance of gathering information.

Tip – Filing your original petition

There are several things to gather and consider.

View All

How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

Alimony is calculated by looking at the reasonable needs of the party seeking support. The party seeking support will have to prepare a Financial Information Statement listing their reasonable needs including monthly expenses. Often the education, business opportunities, abilities, and mortgage concerns of the spouse in need are relevant as well.

Support is capped at either $5000 per month, or 20% of a party’s average gross monthly income. There is no fixed calculation for spousal support, and the amount of support varies in every case.

Courts typically award spousal maintenance in periodic payments rather than one lump sum. The judge might even issue a withholding order. Withholding orders are sent to a person’s employer, directing them to deduct the spousal support payment directly from the check and then send that money to the appropriate court.

One spouse can request the court to amend the ordered support, provided there is a material change in circumstances since the first order was issued. However, until the court hears the request and makes a ruling, the original order stands.

The paying spouse can’t stop paying or change the amount of spousal maintenance without a court order. Otherwise, they could be subject to fines, liens, attorney’s fees, and possibly even jail time. If the recipient spouse is not receiving the support as ordered, they can file a formal request to ask the court to enforce the court order.

How Does Contractual Alimony Work?

Contractual alimony differs because this is an agreement between the spouses for support payments after the marriage is dissolved. Because the court doesn’t mandate this alimony, the payments can fall outside of the statutory limits. That means the monthly payments can be higher than you would receive from court-ordered spousal maintenance. And the duration can also exceed the limits set forth in the Texas Family Code.

Another major difference with contractual alimony is that it’s harder to enforce or modify. You cannot rely on traditional enforcement methods through the court since there was no court order to begin with. Instead, you will need to file a civil suit. However, the main benefit of contractual alimony is that the parties have more control over the terms of their agreement. A skilled Houston spousal maintenance lawyer can tell you whether contractual alimony is a better option for you.

Can I Ask for Spousal Support Before the Divorce Is Finalized?

Interim, or temporary support, is granted to one party while the case is pending and is not subject to the requirements listed above. Sometimes temporary spousal support will be in the form of one party being ordered to continue making payments on the residence or vehicle of the other party and sometimes they are in the form of monthly monetary payments. Speak with an attorney to discuss whether temporary support is an option in your case.

Seeking Expert Advice From an Attorney at the Ramos Law Group

If you need alimony advice, or you’re preparing for a divorce, reach out to the Ramos Law Group today for help from divorce lawyers with years of experience in family law. Contact us at our Houston office at 713-225-6200 to schedule an initial consultation. Let us answer all your questions regarding spousal maintenance and contractual alimony.

Schedule Consultation

Our Client Testimonials

Superb Law Firm

The decision to end my 25-year marriage was not an easy one, but hiring the Ramos Law Group was. From the initial consultation to the execution of the Divorce Decree everyone at the firm displayed the utmost professionalism and I was treated as if I was their only client. My attorney Lindsey, always provided precise legal guidance, was usually one step ahead of the opposing counsel, and had a superb understanding of how things would play out in the court room. Additionally, whenever my case needed a little extra horsepower, Mary provided that "surge" to keep things on track.

Worth Every Penny

"Ms. Ramos and her entire staff worked with professionalism and compassion to guide me through the most difficult time of my life and to an outcome that was best for my family and myself. Ramos Law is incredible and I highly, highly recommend their services."

Custody case won

"I was recommended to see Mary Ramos for my on coming custody case,it was the best thing I could've done honestly.The Ramos law group was quick with emailed responses and telephone calls,informative with ANY questions I had and they also took action with what they thought would work,which it did,I had money troubles and they were still willing to help they sent me with a younger lawyer Lindsey Lewis to help save some money and she was the best!She knew what she was doing and Mary was still on my case to make sure things went smoothly and to catch any details Lindsey and I might have missed.All in all I am a very satisfied client and if I ever needed a family lawyer again I would come back.My case was won as I received primary for my daughter which is exactly what I asked for.If you're willing to listen to what they have to say and follow their guidance they're definitely worth hiring.I thought I wanted sole custody for my daughter and they explained that wasn't in the best interest for her and honestly they were right,they speak to you on a professional level and also a real level of how things are actually going to work and what could happen if you take a certain action.They definitely care about their clients and make their own bond with you,you're not just money in their pockets you turn into family. "

Divorce Attorney

"I received excellent advice and representation from Ms. Lindsey Lewis. She kept me updated at every step of the process, and I never felt as if my case was set aside. I would hire The Ramos Law Group in the future. "

Highly recommend

"I started my divorce with a lawyer who was not very responsive. My divorce case was complicated and needed more laborious scrutiny. Since the case was not moving forward I had to switch lawyers. Made the switch to Ramos Law group. Since the very first day Mary and her team have been very efficient and meticulous. Since the case was complicated the team had to go through myriads of pages in discovery. I was pleased with the legal team that helped us handle the paperwork in a very timely manner. All my questions were answered very promptly. The relay of information was easy with their software system. We finally had a law firm that we could trust. My divorce was finalized and I only have Mary and her team to thank for going through a difficult divorce. I would highly recommend the Ramos law group for their help and support for getting my life back on track. "

Check More Reviews

We Protect Your Rights, Your Family & Your Future.

X - Close