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alimony or spousal support

Alimony, spousal support, spousal maintenance, or domestic partner support (collectively, spousal support) is generally financial support in the form of periodic payments (usually monthly) paid by one spouse or domestic partner to the other spouse or domestic partner (referred to as spouses) upon divorce. Financial support paid by one spouse to the other spouse while the divorce is pending is often called temporary support.

The law regarding eligibility for spousal support—including the number of years payments must be made and the amount of the payments—often depends on factors such as the length of the marriage, the spouses’ relative earning capacities, the dependent spouse’s education and employment skills, the time a dependent spouse needs to obtain sufficient education or training, and whether there was family violence in the marriage.

Spousal support payments are generally taxable income to the person receiving the payments and deductible for the person making the payments. Such payments generally terminate upon (1) the end of the court-ordered award or payment period; (2) the death of either spouse; or (3) the remarriage of the spouse receiving the payments. And in some states the court may terminate the payments if the spouse receiving payments cohabits (lives) with another person with whom they have a romantic relationship.

Spousal support laws vary from state to state and are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the family or domestic relations code.

In Texas, spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony, is the financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. The Texas Family Code governs the eligibility and enforcement of spousal maintenance. To qualify for spousal maintenance, the spouse seeking support must meet certain criteria, such as being unable to provide for their minimum reasonable needs and either being married for at least 10 years, having a disability, being the custodian of a child with a disability, or the marriage must have involved family violence. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments are determined by factors including the length of the marriage, each spouse's financial resources, employment skills, and the time necessary to acquire education or training to become self-sufficient. Payments are typically limited to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, with a maximum duration of 5, 7, or 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage. Spousal maintenance payments terminate upon the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the recipient spouse, or further court order, which may include circumstances of cohabitation. It's important to note that as of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, for federal tax purposes, alimony payments are no longer deductible for the payer and are not considered taxable income for the recipient for divorce or separation agreements executed after December 31, 2018.

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