The statute for many years was that alimony or maintenance lasted only 36 months – no matter how long the couple had been married or what their circumstances were. The old statute was meant to encourage divorced spouses to become self-sufficient: the idea was to pay them to re-educate themselves or get some kind of training so they could obtain gainful employment.
That statute was changed recently for long-term marriages, which includes anything over ten years. In fact, we were in court last week and our client received seven years of maintenance after a 28-year marriage; in her case, the maintenance will support her until the social security payments start.
If there’s a medical issue, such as a disability where that spouse can’t work, a court could order permanent maintenance.
I’ve heard it said that maintenance isn’t handed out very easily in Texas, especially if you have a working spouse who is capable of making a living. Some states may award maintenance – even permanent maintenance – more easily or frequently than is the case in Texas.