When a former spouse pays their ex-partner any form of post-divorce payment, this is known as alimony or spousal maintenance. Most courts recognize two types of alimony, which include payments ordered by a court and contractual alimony, which is an agreement drafted by the two parties before the divorce proceedings. Contractual alimony is a post-divorce monthly payment agreement between spouses that does not have any limits on duration and amount or eligibility requirements. However, in order to qualify for spousal maintenance, a person must fit certain criteria.
Factors that a court could consider include whether spouses are able to provide for themselves due to a disability, whether they are caring for a disabled child from the marriage, the other spouse’s ability to pay and the financial needs of both parties. In addition, the marriage in question may be required to have lasted at least ten years in order for one party to collect the payments.
The duration of spousal maintenance payments can last five, seven or 10 years. Even though many factors go into the decision of whether to award someone spousal maintenance payments, most courts will try to mitigate the burden on the other spouse. This is usually done by limiting these payments to a length of time that should be sufficient to let the spouses find an alternative means of supporting themselves.
When a family law attorney works with a person to come up with an alimony contract that is workable for both their client and that client’s spouse, they might review the finances of both parties and negotiate with the legal counsel representing the client’s former partner. Whether their client is requesting alimony or is fighting the request, the family law attorney could perform many tasks in order to work for the best interest of their client.
Source: The Houston Chronicle, “Alimony not an option for most divorcing in Texas“, July 15, 2014