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Is alimony available in Texas?

In Texas, alimony is termed “spousal support” and may be awarded in a divorce case. When determining the amount of a spousal support to be awarded, courts consider several factors, including:

  • the duration of the parties’ marriage;
  • each party’s needs;
  • each party’s financial resources (including debts and other liabilities);
  • each party’s responsibilities toward the support of the parties’ children;
  • any other income sources available to either spouse.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document whereby a person (the “principal”) authorizes another (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to act on the principal’s behalf in matters outlined in the document. A power of attorney can be a general power of attorney or a specific power of attorney. The specific power of attorney allows the agent to accomplish a specific defined task in the principal’s absence or incapacity. A general power of attorney gives the agent extremely broad powers to execute transactions for, and make decisions on behalf of, the principal. Generally, the principal can revoke the power of attorney at any time.

How does “collaborative law” work in the divorce context?

The collaborative family law process empowers spouses to dissolve their marriage with dignity and allows parties to protect their children from the strains of litigation, which can impose a personal responsibility in resolving conflict. Parties to divorce, their attorneys, and any other professional involved agree to make a good faith attempt to reach an amicable settlement without going to court; collaborative practice is intended to minimize difference while working toward that resolution. In the collaborative process, each spouse is responsible for gathering necessary information.

The collaborative family law process is a problem-solving method, which encourages mutual respect, provides for open communication, and prepares individuals for new lives.

What is “community property”?

In Texas, principles of “community property” apply when couples are distributing property in connection with a divorce. In such a system, property acquired during marriage other than by gift or inheritance from a third party is presumed to be community property and will be divided equally between the parties in divorce. Property that a spouse brings into the marriage or acquires during marriage by gift or inheritance from a third party is presumed to be separate property. Community property states generally consider a gift from one spouse to the other to be the recipient’s separate property. The concept of community property also applies to debts. A divorcing couple may have community debts, and each spouse may also have separate debts.

When can an award of alimony be modified?

A party may obtain a modification of an alimony award upon proof that there has been a substantial change in financial circumstances, such as a reduction/increase in salary, an involuntary job loss, a change in the party’s health condition, or retirement. The modification of the alimony award may either be an increase or decrease, depending on the facts of the case.

What are protective orders and how are they used?

A protective order is a specific type of restraining order that is issued by a court to prevent a recurrence of domestic violence and to separate the parties involved to enable them to resolve the causes for the violence. Getting a restraining order in Texas can remove and bar the harassing person from a jointly occupied residence, and a protective order can be obtained even if the victim has left the home to avoid further abuse. Protective orders can also provide for participation in counseling and the payment of spousal support or attorney fees. Violation of a restraining order is a crime punishable by jail time and/or a fine.

Resource Links

Texas Attorney General – Child Support Division
Family Law Section – State Bar of Texas
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Texas Department of State Health Services