When a marriage ends in divorce, the issue of spousal support (often called “alimony”) may arise. Although the terms spousal maintenance and alimony sound similar, they are two different things.

“Spousal maintenance” is court-ordered maintenance paid by one spouse to another, for a set period of time. Spousal maintenance is modifiable and can terminate early based on one of several factors. Typically, a spouse must show best-efforts to earn an income prior to receiving court-ordered maintenance. In Texas obtaining spousal maintenance is challenging because our law presumes that spousal maintenance is not needed.

In Texas, the term “alimony” refers to money paid by one spouse to the other for a set period of time. Alimony is only available in Texas by an agreement between spouses. Often, a spouse may agree to pay alimony to their spouse in order to equalize the division of property, help their spouse adjust after divorce, or help their spouse obtain education or training needed to support themselves after divorce.

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