Support obligations can make divorce more financially draining for some people than for others. If you don’t have children or all of your children are already adults, you won’t have to worry about child support when you divorce.
However, the potential exists for a dependent spouse to ask the courts for alimony, which the Texas courts call spousal maintenance. You might have to pay for your spouse for years if the courts agree that the circumstances justify it. How long can you expect your financial obligations to your ex to last after your divorce?
Does your situation even qualify for maintenance?
The judge presiding over a divorce where one spouse has requested maintenance has to consider multiple factors before ruling. The first is whether the marital situation even qualifies for maintenance. The spouse asking for support must show either that they are incapable of supporting themselves or that they have evidence of domestic abuse.
Claims about being unable to support themselves must meet certain criteria. Generally, there should be evidence of a physical or mental disability that limits their work and earning potential. Alternately, if they have custody of a child with special needs, they can claim alimony if they can’t work full time because of their parental obligations. For this rule to apply, the marriage must also have lasted at least 10 years.
The length of your marriage affects how long maintenance lasts
Some of the strictest rules about maintenance in Texas focus on the length of the marriage. Generally speaking, only those with long-lasting marriages can claim maintenance payments. If your marriage lasted for less than 10 years, any maintenance will stem from abuse allegations or extreme situations and will likely only last for five years.
For marriages that lasted between 10 and 20 years, alimony has a maximum duration of seven years. The length of alimony increases to a maximum of seven years for marriages that last between 20 and 30 years. If the marriage lasted more than 30 years, there could be an entire decade of maintenance required.
For most couples, alimony payments will only last as long as the statutory limit determined by the length of the marriage. Spouses asked to pay maintenance can defend against such claims or even ask the courts to modify the order if the situation changes after the divorce.