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Financial arrangements after divorce for Texas residents

Couples in Texas who are considering divorce must also think about how doing so will affect their financial situation. Individuals may think that they will be required to pay alimony or that they will be able to support themselves using alimony, but these laws have changed over the past two decades.

Alimony now comes in two different forms. Court-ordered spousal maintenance has specific parameters defined by the state. Contractual alimony is an agreement between two individuals that does not involve the court and has no specific parameters beyond those named by the individuals involved.

The court uses uses a number of factors to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. While it is usually set for periods of five, seven or 10 years, that duration can change if the spouse has a mental or physical disability or cares for a child who has one. In that case, the maintenance may last for the length of the disability. It may be indefinite if the disability is as well. A court that is considering spousal maintenance will also examine whether there have been any allegations of domestic abuse, how long the marriage lasted and the income situation of each individual. However, maintenance is generally awarded for a minimal time period. The idea is for the receiving spouse to become capable of self-support as soon as possible after the divorce.

Individuals who are facing divorce may wish to consult an attorney whether they are planning for some form of spousal support or not. An attorney can assist in drawing up the written document for contractual alimony. Attorneys may also be helpful in dividing assets, negotiating child custody and other aspects of ending a marriage.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Alimony not an option for most divorcing in Texas", July 15, 2014

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