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The Science and Art of Spousal Support Determination

 Posted on January 21, 2016 in Spousal Support

Texas high asset divorce attorney, Texas alimony lawyer, spousal maintenance, The amount of duration of spousal support payments in a high asset divorce is a matter of both science and art because the relevant provisions in the Texas Family Code contain both a mechanical formula based on the length of the marriage and a guide for the evaluation of case-specific financial and familial data.

This combination is a response to a wave of alimony reform that is still going on in many jurisdictions. On the one side, obligor ex-spouses, who are nearly all men, want spousal support to be determined mechanically and sharply limited; obligee ex-spouses, the majority of which are women, insist that flexibility is necessary to bring about a just and right division of the marital estate.


The statute caps the duration of payments at five years (if the marriage lasted 20 years or less), seven years (20 to 30 year marriage), or 10 years (marriage of longer than 30 years). The duration of payments must be the "shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs." Some obligee spouses may elect a lump-sum amount as opposed to periodic payments. In these circumstances, the amount due is pre-calculated and a discount is applied to account for inflation.

In a similar vein, the maximum amount is mechanically set at 20 percent of the obligor's gross income; 8.055(1) and (2) specifically defines what is and is not included in gross income. The actual amount is up to the court to determine, as set forth below.


This aspect of spousal maintenance is almost entirely art. Some of the factors used to determine the amount of alimony are:

  • History of family violence, if any;
  • Ability to independently provide for minimum reasonable needs;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Relative age, income, and education of the spouses;
  • Dissipation (waste) of community assets during the marriage;
  • Non-economic contributions to the marriage; and
  • Separate property awarded in the high asset divorce.

Significantly, Texas is one of the few jurisdictions which allows consideration of fault in the breakup of the marriage when determining the amount of maintenance.

Spousal maintenance is often an important component in a property division. For a confidential consultation, contact an aggressive Leander high asset divorce attorney. Convenient payment plans are available. Call Powers Kerr & Rashidi, PLLC at 512.610.6199 today.



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