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Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Alimony Amount and Duration Getting Shorter and Shorter

A popular reform topic in family law is what to do about alimony. The standards vary in every state, but the general trend has been to limit alimony, both in amount and duration. There has also been a push to enact some type of mathematical system to determine the amount and duration of alimony. The goal with this is to eliminate some of the variability that occurs in alimony awards. Using a numerical formula, family law judges would award a more predictable alimony than their awards under the current system, which are often entirely unpredictable.

A few of the changes taking place throughout the country include the following:

  • In Massachusetts last fall, legislators capped alimony at 12 years; the law also now requires that the payor stop paying once he or she reaches retirement age
  • In several states, alimony automatically ends when the payee ex-spouse begins living with someone else
  • In Florida, one group claimed that alimony was a form of involuntary servitude and tried to amend the state constitution to get rid of alimony altogether (the Florida legislature never adopted the proposal)

Many advocate a sort of nationwide, numerical formula for judges to use. One such proposal comes from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The group proposed the following alimony formula:

  • Alimony is equal to 30 percent of the payor’s gross income minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income, with the amount having to be below 40 percent of the couple’s combined gross income
  • The length of the alimony would be the length of the marriage times a number (no word yet on what that number is)
  • Other factors like age, health and status of children would be able to impact the final alimony award and its duration

In Texas, alimony is already rare, unless the two sides agree to it on their own. Texas courts are less likely to award it, but it is available in certain cases. The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years and the spouse seeking alimony must currently lack the income to support him- or herself. The alimony is normally only granted for three years at the most.

Have you sought alimony in a Texas divorce case? What was your experience with the process?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce lawyers

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