In Texas, we don’t call it alimony, it’s called post-divorce spousal maintenance and it’s generally limited to a couple of situations.
Spousal maintenance in Texas is a rehabilitative type of maintenance. It’s awarded to parties who lack the ability to meet their minimum reasonable needs in a marriage of at least 10 years or longer. This type of spousal maintenance is tiered.
In order to get this type of post divorce spousal maintenance (or alimony) you have to prove to the court that (A) you can’t meet your minimum reasonable needs and (B) being awarded this type of spousal maintenance will put you in a situation where you can become self supporting.
For example, you might have to show the judge, “I’ve applied for these jobs, and been to these interviews and I can’t get a job that will allow me to put a roof over my head, feed my family and get transportation. If I’m awarded this alimony, I’ll be able to finish my degree or get additional training that will allow me to get a job.” In general, it’s difficult to make the argument that you need support like this for more than 3 or 4 years.
Alimony related to felony level domestic violence that has occurred within 2 years of the Petition for Divorce being filed. It is more punitive in nature and is not subject to the same time and money limitations as the statutory alimony discussed above.
In marriages of more than 10 years, parties that are disabled such that they cannot meet their minimum reasonable needs or parents that are caring for a disabled child (of the marriage) can ask for support. This support is not necessarily constrained by the tiered limits present in the statutory types of alimony such as the minimum reasonable needs standard.
The spousal maintenance can continue as long as the disability of the spouse or of the child continues in such a way that the spouse is unable to meet their minimum reasonable needs.
Contractual or agreed alimony is much more common in family law cases and is often used as a negotiation tool. As an example, if you have a family owned business and you can’t divide the business without destroying it, compensating one of the spouses with contractual alimony may be an option.
Contractual alimony is used in a number of situations, so it’s best to discuss your specific situation with an experienced lawyer to find out how it might apply to your situation.