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How long must spousal support be paid in Texas?

Texas couples who decide to end their marriage and move forward with a divorce will have a great deal of family legal issues to consider as the process moves forward. One that is frequently in dispute is spousal support, alternatively known as alimony or maintenance. There are several subsets to maintenance that the spouses must understand. One important factor is the duration of the order. Knowing how long one spouse will pay and the other spouse will receive support can allow them to prepare accordingly.

Except in certain circumstances, the court cannot order maintenance to be paid for more than five years if the spouses were married for less than 10 years and the receiving spouse is deemed eligible based on personal and financial matters, or if it the spouses were married to one another for a minimum of 10 years, but no longer than 20 years. It cannot be ordered for more than seven years if the spouses were married for a minimum of 20 years but not longer than 30 years. And it cannot be ordered for 10 years if the spouses were married for 30 years or more.

The court can limit the amount of time for maintenance to a duration in which the spouse who is receiving the payments can gain the ability to provide for his or her basic needs. The exceptions to this are the following if the person cannot support him or herselfdue to: mental or physical disability; having to care for an infant or young child from the marriage; or has another compelling issue that impedes the ability to earn the income for self-support.

When a couple has chosen to end a marriage, the family legal issues with maintenance can cause confusion regarding how long it is legally required to last. For a spouse who is paying or a spouse who is receiving support, knowing the basics of how the duration is determined is an important factor. For help with these issues, both the paying spouse and the receiving spouse should discuss the matter with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: statutes.legis.state.tx.us, "Chapter 8. Maintenance -- Sec. 8.054. Duration of Maintenance Order," accessed on March 6, 2017

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