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How long does Texas spousal maintenance usually last?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2024 | Family Law

Spouses preparing for divorce in Texas typically need to address numerous financial matters. They must negotiate a way to divide their marital assets and debts. Spouses either settle their property division matters on their own or go to court to have a judge apply the Texas community property statute to their marital estate.

There may be financial concerns beyond just property division, especially when the spouses have very different economic circumstances. In scenarios involving older spouses, a spouse with a major medical condition, highly unbalanced custody arrangements and other unusual factors, one spouse may require financial support from the other. Situations where one spouse left the workforce to raise the couple’s children could also involve highly disparate future earning potentials for the spouses.

The spouse who has less income or ability to work could potentially seek spousal maintenance as part of the divorce. Requests for spousal maintenance or alimony can be a point of contention during divorce negotiations.

Marriage duration affects maintenance requirements

Texas has numerous rules that govern spousal maintenance requests. Typically, only those who have remained married for at least 10 years or who have highly unusual circumstances qualify for spousal maintenance. In most divorce cases, the duration of the marriage is one of the main considerations when setting the duration of the maintenance order.

For a marriage that lasted longer than 10 years but less than 20 years, judges could order up to five years of spousal maintenance. If a marriage lasted more than 20 years but less than 30 years, judges could order up to seven years of monthly spousal maintenance payments. Marriages that lasted at least 30 years could lead to up to 10 years of spousal maintenance requirements. Permanent spousal maintenance is incredibly rare and only available in highly-unusual situations.

Spouses can sometimes arrange to deviate from current spousal maintenance rules by reaching an agreement with one another. If the circumstances of either spouse change following the divorce, a spousal maintenance modification might be necessary.