In Texas and throughout the country, family court judges often make decisions regarding finances and property when a married couple files a petition to end their relationship. In divorce, marital property issues are separate from alimony, which is also known as “spousal support.” A pair of spouses might execute their own agreement about one of them financially supporting the other. In some cases, however, a judge will make the decisions on behalf of the spouses.
Each case decided by its own merits
There are guidelines in place to help the court determine what is best in a particular alimony case. However, under the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, judges overseeing divorce are encouraged to consider numerous factors before handing down a ruling as to whether alimony should be paid, how much, by whom, etc. The following list includes issues a judge would typically use to help him or her form a decision:
- Financial status of each spouse
- If one spouse has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time
- Marriage longevity
- Accustomed standard of living during marriage
- Ages of both spouses
- Mental, physical and emotional health of each spouse
People typically pay alimony on a temporary basis. Payments usually continue until the recipient is able to secure enough income to become financially self-supporting. If, before that time, the spouse in question remarries, payments may cease.
What happens if a spouse does not make payments?
A Texas spouse has recourse by law to initiate contempt proceedings if his or her ex disregards a court order to pay alimony. If a person who has been ordered to make payments has encountered circumstances that impede his or her ability to do so, he or she must take the proper legal steps to request modification of the court order. No one can take it upon himself or herself to simply stop making payments without the court’s permission. If that happens, the other spouse may ask the court to enforce the order.