Austin couples may be interested in some information about the limits imposed on a court in ordering alimony. These payments are subject to strict rules that determine the amount and duration of the support.
Alimony payments are made from one former spouse to another after a divorce in order to financially support their ex-spouse. While contractual agreements can be made willingly in a divorce, a judge’s power to order these alimony payments has limits.
A few requirements must be met before a judge can force a spouse to pay alimony. The couple must have been married for at least a decade, and the payee spouse must not be able to cover their basic needs with their own income. Otherwise, they or a child must be disabled or otherwise lack the ability to earn a living wage. Another scenario that allows a judge to order spousal support is when there has been a conviction for a family violence-related incident within the two years before a divorce.
When ordering these payments, the judge has a hard limit of the lesser of 20 percent of the payor spouse’s income or $5,000 per month. However, this amount can only represent enough to meet the minimum needs of the payee spouse. Additionally, the length of time that payments can be ordered for is dictated by the duration of the former couple’s marriage and cannot be indefinite. It can, however, be lengthened if the payee spouse or a child they are caring for has a disability.
When dealing with this type of issue during a divorce, it can be helpful to have the guidance of an attorney. The attorney may be able to assist one party in negotiating a divorce agreement, including topics such as spousal support and complex property division issues in a high-asset divorce.
Source: State Bar of Texas, “Pro Se Divorce Handbook“, December 23, 2014