Many people say that Texas doesn’t have alimony. While that’s a generalization, it isn’t far from the truth.
If your divorce goes to court, the judge will be limited in the amount and duration of monthly spousal support the court can grant you. Basically, for the court to require alimony, you must have been married for ten years and be unable to support yourself. The alimony can be no more than $2,500 a month or 20% of your spouse’s income, whichever is less. It is generally limited to three years. In Texas, monthly spousal-support is considered to be a temporary measure to allow the lesser-earning spouse to get training for a job that will support her.
If you are going to have substantial wealth after your divorce, you might not qualify for the court-mandated alimony. Even if you are not going to be wealthy, your spouse still might not have the income to pay the alimony.
Of course, before you go to court and during negotiations, you and your spouse can agree on monthly spousal support of any kind. Your agreement does not have to follow the court’s limitations. But if your negotiations break down and you end up in court, your negotiated alimony might fall by the wayside. Then you could be stuck with the court-limited alimony, if any.
The question of whether you’re better off with monthly spousal payments or one large lump-sum payment depends upon several factors of your financial situation. But, in Texas, you might not even get to the question of which is best for you. So negotiate carefully, and keep an eye on the possibility of ending up with a court trial where the judge could limit or deny the spousal support.
Tracy B. Stewart, CPA, CFP, CDFA focuses exclusively on divorce financial consulting at Stewart Financial Consulting in College Station, TX.