Spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, is money paid by either spouse to the other following a divorce. Its purpose is to support a financially dependent spouse after separation who either did not work during the marriage or earns far less than the other. Family courts are aware of the economic hardships that may come up in transitioning from a two-income household to a one-income household. Therefore, spousal support is meant to provide relief to the disadvantaged spouse.
It can either be long-term or short-term as set out by the court order, and the amount in question is usually at the judge’s discretion as well. In arriving at the figure, various factors are taken into account, as outlined below.
What the judge may consider
Usually, the amount lies between the paying spouse’s income and expenses. However, other aspects may weigh in regarding the amount of spousal support, such as:
- Each spouse’s financial position after the divorce is finalized, including separate property
- How paying child support affects the spouse’s ability to pay their bills
- The spouse’s contribution to the other’s education or increased earning power
- Each spouses education level and ability to get employed
- Whether either spouse improperly spent or wasted marital property during the marriage
- Either party’s marital misconduct during the marriage
- Whether there were instances of domestic violence
- Homemaker contributions, among others
It is important to note that under Texas law, alimony cannot be more than 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income or $5000, whichever is lower.
Understand and protect your rights
The amount of spousal support should be reasonable to the paying couple, and the judge has to ascertain their capability in meeting the payments. Learning more about what the law says about alimony may increase the likelihood of a beneficial outcome for you and ensure your rights are protected in the course of the case.