Going through a separation and divorce can be stressful for everyone involved. When a divorce involves children, it can be nerve-wracking. One part of separation and divorce is alimony, or spousal maintenance. Alimony is when one spouse (husband or wife) pays the other to maintain financial stability. It is essential to understand that getting alimony payments in Texas can be difficult. The courts have strict guidelines for support and usually start with giving alimony to a spouse only if they meet strict guidelines. You will need a tenacious alimony divorce lawyer to advocate for your interests and guide you through the paperwork.
Generally, the spouse that earns more money will be the one paying alimony. But it can get complicated, so you will want to contact an alimony divorce lawyer in Austin to examine your case.
How an Alimony Divorce Lawyer in Austin Can Help You
Getting divorced in Austin can be complex. There are many aspects to consider when seeking the terms of your divorce settlement. Alimony payments can be an essential piece of the divorce puzzle. Some ways a divorce lawyer can help you are:
- Meet with you to discuss your specific case and review your divorce options
- Explain how the divorce procedure works, including filing documents with the courts
- Make sure that the other spouse discloses all marital assets
- Explain the division of marital property
- Discuss whether you qualify for alimony (also called spousal support)
- Help negotiate a settlement without having to appear in court
- Represent you in court, if necessary
- Help guide you through the many aspects of the process and advocate for your interests throughout
Let Smith Family Law be Your Austin Alimony Divorce Attorney
We know that there are many alimony divorce attorneys in Austin who you can hire to represent you. Our team of attorneys at Smith Family Law has the experience to help you through these challenging times.
You will want attorneys who care about their clients and will be there for them every step of the way. Some reasons to hire Smith Family Law include the following:
- Our founder, Christian Smith, is a voracious litigator who thrives on complex cases.
- Christian graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston. She then graduated from South Texas College of Law Houston. Christian is Texan through and through.
- Christian has received many awards, including the 2023 Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star Award and the 2019 National Association of Family Law Attorneys Top 10 under 40 Award.
- Our past clients have told us how satisfied they were with our representation. Please take a look at what they say about our work.
- Our primary focus is family law. We are not a national conglomerate law firm. We take individual care of every client. You are not just a client. You are a member of our family.
- We work with our clients through the divorce process, from separation to signing the divorce agreement or a jury trial. We can also help with child custody cases and child support payments.
- A divorce is one of the most challenging and stressful life changes, and you deserve a tenacious law firm fighting for what is right. The Smith Family Law firm is your alimony divorce attorney.
Alimony Payments in Austin
Texas has three types of alimony payments: temporary spousal support, contractual alimony, and spousal maintenance. It is essential to understand the difference between them.
- Temporary Spousal Support – This is when one spouse pays the other while they are going through divorce proceedings. Temporary spousal support lasts until a court decides that the receiving spouse should have been able to get other means of income. This support is not always given to the lower-earning spouse and is only done when a court proclaims it is necessary.
- Contractual Alimony – Contractual alimony occurs when spouses agree on alimony payments without judicial interference. If a divorce is amicable, going through this route could benefit both parties. Contractual alimony gets written up and presented to a judge for approval.
- Spousal Maintenance – This is when a judge orders payments from one spouse to another and does not need approval from both spouses. The lower-income spouse must qualify for spousal maintenance.
More on Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed, according to Texas law. Many factors are used to determine whether one spouse will receive support. Spouses must qualify for it, and it can be challenging.
To qualify for spousal maintenance, a spouse must meet one of the following:
- The marriage has to have lasted at least ten years.
- The spouse does not have the wherewithal to make money to meet their needs.
- The spouse has a disability that hinders them from bringing in income.
- The spouse cares for a child with special needs, which doesn’t allow them to work.
- If the spouse is a sponsored immigrant, they can use the Affidavit of Support signed when the sponsorship started to obtain spousal benefits.
Other factors can come into play when deciding on spousal support qualification:
- The length of the marriage
- Both spouses’ education and employability
- The age and health of the spouses
- How long it would take for the receiving spouse to earn a living to support themselves
Furthermore, if the paying spouse has a conviction of domestic violence against a member of their immediate family, they qualify for maintenance.
There are two parts to calculating alimony in Texas: The amount awarded and the duration of payments.
According to Texas law, the highest amount a court can order a spouse to pay is 20% of the paying spouse’s income or $5,000 monthly. The courts will always go with the lower amount. If there is a disagreement on defining “gross income,” you should look to Texas law for the answer.
Note that this represents the maximum amount and isn’t obligatory. If the spouses agree on a lower amount, that is their right.
The duration of alimony only depends on one thing: how long the marriage lasted. Generally, the duration of alimony lands into three separate buckets:
- Up to 5 years – There was a family violence conviction within two years of the divorce petition. They also receive this if the marriage lasts from 10-20 years.
- Up to 7 years – The marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years.
- Up to 10 years – The marriage lasted 30 years or more.
Also, there are three reasons why alimony can end early:
- The spouse receiving alimony gets married again.
- Either one of the spouses dies.
- Evidence put before a judge proves that the receiving spouse has consistently resided with a partner.
Last, either spouse can ask the court for moderation in the amount paid alimony. To accomplish this, the spouse filing the motion must show a reason for asking for moderation, usually a change in financial circumstances.
Enforcing Alimony Orders
If one spouse gets ordered by the court to pay alimony, they must pay it. If the spouse fails to pay court-ordered alimony, the other spouse can bring contempt proceedings against them. If that happens, a judge can order the paying spouse to pay a fine or even spend time in jail.
Contempt orders are also brought against the paying spouse if they don’t pay even when they have entered into a contractual alimony agreement. These are contracts, and both parties must adhere to them.
Other Factors Related to Alimony in Texas
Other issues generally come up related to alimony payments. Some of those issues are:
- Taxes – The general rule is that the spouse paying alimony deducts the spousal support from their yearly income taxes. Also, the spouse receiving the money pays taxes on this income.
- Bankruptcy – If the paying spouse declares bankruptcy, that doesn’t mean they no longer have to pay alimony. After completing bankruptcy, the payment obligation does not receive discharge.
Call Smith Family Law Today For Help With Your Austin Alimony Divorce Case
The attorneys at Smith Family Law are here for you during these stressful times in your marriage. When you need a law firm to turn to for legal advice, our attorneys will be there for you every step of the day. We will always maintain contact with you from the initial meeting until you sign your final divorce papers.
Our family law attorneys are knowledgeable, caring, and genuinely caring for our clients undergoing extreme life changes. Divorce, especially when children are involved, can become complicated. Don’t go at it alone and lose important alimony payments when needed. We will be there to help your divorce go as smoothly as possible. So, call us today at (512) 764-1044 or contact us online for a free consultation.