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Knowing Texas alimony laws prior to divorce is important

People headed towards divorce are probably experiencing some of the worst times in their lives. There are so many changes to deal with and so many uncertainties involved that the entire process can be overwhelming. Despite those difficulties, it is still wise to take some time and gain some knowledge. Laws change over time and what may have been common practice just a few years ago may no longer be a typical scenario. A new book about the subject titled, "Guide to Good Divorce" written by Trey Yates offers up some helpful tips on the matter.

For example, Texas state laws regarding alimony changed considerably in 1995. Alimony is defined as money that one spouse pays to another after the divorce. In Texas, there are two forms of alimony payments, court-ordered alimony and alimony which is paid as the result of a contractual agreement. In other words, the first type of alimony is ordered by the court, whereas the second form of alimony is agreed on by both parties in a signed contract.

In 1995, the state legislature ratified the spousal maintenance statute. That law basically meant that one spouse could be ordered to pay alimony to another under certain specific parameters. In most cases, the court would consider domestic violence, disability, the duration of the marriage and a host of other factors when making a determination as to which party would make payments.

According to the author, 2011 Texas legislators made some key changes to the 1995 rules. One critical difference is that previously, courts would look to see whether a couple was married for at least 10 years before granting alimony to a spouse who is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. Today, the court can also look for extenuating reasons to award alimony prior to the former 10 year marriage minimum. Factors such as a requesting spouse having a severe disability or taking care of a child with substantial needs can play a role in the courts determination.

These changes in the law represent just a fraction of the complexities of divorce. That is why spouses headed towards divorce should exercise caution and seek the counsel of others more experienced in these matters.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Alimony not an option for most divorcing in Texas" Jul. 15, 2014

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