These days, many committed partners build and live their lives together without becoming formally married. While some states recognize common law marriage, not all do, and those that do, do so with caveats and restrictions. So, if you and your common law spouse were never married, are you entitled to spousal support after the relationship ends?
Texas recognizes a common law marriage as equal to a formal marriage. The Texas Family Code statutorily defines a common law marriage as being legitimate when:
- The parties agree to marry
- The parties live together as spouses
- The parties hold themselves out as married to the world
In most cases then, if one spouse in a married couple would qualify for alimony under Texas law, a common law spouse will too.
Frequently referred to as “alimony,” spousal support is a relatively new phenomenon in Texas. In fact, Texas was the last state in the country to allow a court to obligate a person to pay their ex-spouse a sum of money in the future. In Texas, spousal maintenance is difficult to come by because there is no court-ordered alimony in Texas. However, the Texas Family Code does recognize limited instances in which a recently divorced individual may need financial assistance for a period of time and has provided guidelines under which the Court may grant it.
Spousal maintenance is limited to either $2,500 per month or 20% of the obligor spouse’s monthly income, whichever is lesser. In addition, a judge cannot order spousal support to continue for a period longer than three years because it is not intended to be something an ex-spouse can rely on for assistance much beyond their divorce. In most cases, the Texas Family Code provides that spousal maintenance may only be ordered for spouses that have been married for 10 years or longer. For marriages lasting between 10 and 20 years, support can be paid for a maximum of five years. For, marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years, support can be paid for a maximum of seven years. For marriages lasting over 30 years, spousal support can be paid for no more than 10 years. Of course, even for these long-term marriages, the spouse requesting maintenance must still show that he or she lacks the ability to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs.
Texas Alimony Lawyers
The family law attorneys of Terry & Roberts possess a comprehensive knowledge of all of these issues. It is our goal to help you achieve your ideal outcome. We encourage you to get in touch if you have any questions. To discuss any Texas family law issue, contact us today.