There are two types of spousal support, commonly known as alimony. One arises from Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code (statutory), the second is arises from contract law (contractual).
To be eligible for statutory spousal maintenance (commonly known as alimony) you must meet one of the following criteria.
- Paying spouse committed and was convicted (or received deferred adjudication for) family violence against the spouse and/or child within two years before divorce is filed or while divorce is filed; OR
- Spouse seeking maintenance is unable to support him/herself according to his/her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; OR
- Has been married for at least ten years and cannot support him/herself according to his/her minimum reasonable needs; OR
- Is the custodian of a child of the marriage who require substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents that spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs.
Contractual alimony does not have any prerequisites, and the parties can negotiate terms as they would do in any contract.
If you choose statutory spousal support, it can be decreased if the circumstances warrant. There is no provision for an increase. If you choose contractual alimony, the terms can only be modified by written agreement of both parties.
In some cases, it may be better to allow the Judge to determine the amount and duration of your alimony rather than reaching an agreement. An agreement may prevent you from seeking to modify the alimony in the future if circumstances change.
There are exceptions to every rule. If you reach an agreement in mediation, you can agree to establish statutory spousal support which will allow a judge to reduce later, if needed.
As you can see, there are many considerations and lengthy discussions to have with your attorney when accessing what is best for YOU.
Kelly Koch Attorney at Law
Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.