Can Alimony Last Forever in Texas?

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Navigating the nuances of alimony, or as it's called in Texas, Spousal Maintenance, can be intricate. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the elements of alimony laws in the Lone Star State, clarifying the distinctions between spousal maintenance and temporary support during divorce proceedings.  One of the most important things to note is that in Texas there is a presumption against an award of Spousal Maintenance (aka “Alimony”).

Alimony and Spousal Maintenance

Alimony Defined

Under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code, alimony is officially known as “Spousal Maintenance.” It is essential to differentiate it from temporary support and Spousal Maintenance.   Temporary Support,, often termed interim support,temporary spousal support, or temporary family support can be awarded during a divorce proceeding.  While there is a presumption against the award of Spousal Maintenance on Final Trial in Texas, the same is not true for Temporary Support while a divorce case is pending. 

Long-Term Commitment

Unlike temporary support, Spousal Maintenance  can be owed after the divorce is finalized, serving as a bridge for a spouse whose self-support capabilities have diminished due to homemaking activities or other reasons. 

The Limitations of Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance in Texas has specific limitations to consider. The maximum amount is capped at either $5,000 or 20 percent of the obligated spouse's average monthly gross income, depending on which is less. The duration of payments varies based on the duration of the marriage: up to five years for marriages lasting 10 years or more, seven years for marriages of 10 to 20 years, and up to 10 years for marriages lasting 30 years or more. This means that Spousal Maintenance, (aka “alimony”), does not last forever in Texas. 

The family code emphasizes ordering the duration for payments as the "shortest reasonable period." This period should enable the spouse seeking maintenance to meet their minimum reasonable needs by either obtaining suitable employment or developing the necessary skills for self-support. The goal is to strike a balance, ensuring financial support while encouraging the recipient's journey toward independence.

Criteria for Eligibility

To qualify for Spousal Maintenance, a spouse generally must meet the following criteria:

  • Duration of Marriage: The marriage should be of a duration of 10 years or longer.
  • Financial Need: The requesting spouse must lack sufficient property to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
  • Earning Ability: The requesting spouse should clearly lack earning ability adequate for self-support.

Calculating Spousal Maintenance (aka Alimony) Duration and Amount


  • The family code dictates the duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage.
  • Up to five years for marriages of 10 years or more.
  • Seven years for marriages of 10 to 20 years.
  • Up to 10 years for marriages of 30 years or more.


Limited to a maximum of $5,000 or 20% of the obligated spouse's average monthly gross income—whichever is less.

Exceptions to the 10-Year Rule

Spousal Maintenance may be awarded in cases involving a conviction of family violence or deferred adjudication of a family violence offense based on family violence occurring against the other spouse or other spouse’s child within 2 years before the filing of the divorce.

Lack of Earning Capacity/Ability

  • Spousal Maintenance can also be awarded if a spouse is unable to support themselves due to a physical or mental disability.
  • Spousal Maintenance can also be ordered based on duties owed to an infant or young child of the marriage
  • Indefinite duration may be ordered, with periodic reviews to assess ongoing need.

Court's Consideration Factors

When deciding on Spousal Maintenance, Texas courts consider various factors, including:

  • Financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • Ability to provide for one’s minimum reasonable needs.
  • Education and employment skills.
  • Duration of the marriage.
  • Age, employment history, and physical/emotional condition.
  • Marital misconduct.
  • Efforts to pursue employment or skills development.

Changing Spousal Maintenance after Divorce

It is important to note that the Court can decrease the amount of Spousal Maintenance after a divorce is granted if the party ordered to pay Spousal Maintenance files a Motion to Modify Spousal Maintenance in Court.   The paying spouse is required to show a material and substantial change in circumstances before the Court can decrease or terminate the amount of Spousal maintenance. 


Understanding alimony in Texas involves considering eligibility criteria, the court's discretion, and various factors influencing the decision-making process. This guide serves as a valuable resource for individuals navigating the complexities of spousal maintenance, emphasizing the importance of legal expertise to ensure fair outcomes. For personalized guidance tailored to your situation, consult with our experienced family law attorneys at Coldwell Bowes.

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