Spousal support sometimes referred to as maintenance or alimony, is periodic payments that one party in a divorce case pays the other spouse. These payments can be temporary, such as financial assistance only during the divorce proceeding, or permanent, which can continue years after the divorce is finalized. That word “permanent” is misleading, though, as many people think payments last forever — even after they get remarried.
The truth is that even permanent spousal support — including the amount and duration — is generally limited.
And unless agreed to by both spouses, these payments will not continue if the spouse receiving the payments remarries.
How is permanent spousal support awarded?
Permanent spousal support is typically awarded to a financially dependent spouse who has been married 10 or more years, has been a victim of family violence, has become disabled, or has to care for a disabled child from the marriage. In determining whether a spouse is entitled to an award of temporary or permanent spousal support, the court will look at a variety of factors, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Financial needs of the spouse
- The ability of the spouse to pay support
- Education and current occupation of both parties
- Presence of domestic violence
As stated above, remarriage is typically a terminating event for these payments. Spousal support also ends if that same dependent spouse begins living with another partner. In those situations, the paying spouse can file a motion to terminate spousal support if they can show evidence of the relationship.
With that being said, Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code states that divorcing spouses can agree otherwise and allow spousal support to continue. Termination of the maintenance obligation also does not terminate the obligation to pay any maintenance that accrued before the date of termination, whether as a result of death or remarriage, or a court order.
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