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April 16, 2018

Divorce and the Stay at Home Parent in Texas Will I receive alimony if I was a stay at home parent during the marriage?

Divorce impacts the lives of all involved, but for the stay at home parent, a divorce can create financial turmoil. Most stay at home parents are women, who already face a significant wage gap in the workforce within Texas and across the nation. Stay at home moms or dads will likely find it difficult to reenter the workforce after often years away, and most likely will not be paid the same wage as their peers who have stayed in the workforce the whole time. Alimony is traditionally awarded to stay at home parents to assist the transition, but Texas law is increasingly making it difficult to receive alimony and now the new tax law may curb a stay at home parent’s negotiation power.

Alimony Laws in Texas

Alimony or spousal support is far from guaranteed in a divorce. A party in need of spousal support will have to file seeking this additional money. Spousal support may be awarded temporarily during the divorce, known as temporary spousal support, or will be awarded to continue after the divorce is finalized. Spousal support can be agreed to in divorce mediation or ordered by the court.

For the court to enter an award of alimony in Texas, you will first need to substantiate that after the divorce, there will not be enough property to meet your reasonable needs. Next, you will need to show at least one of the following:

  • The marriage lasted over ten years and the spouse made reasonable efforts to earn an income or gain job skills while the divorce was pending;
  • The other spouse committed domestic or family violence;
  • The spouse seeking support has a serious disability; or
  • A child from the marriage has a physical or mental disability requiring the requesting spouse’s care.

When these standards are met, the court can order maintenance payments of the lower amount of $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the payor spouse’s monthly gross income. The parties can contractually agree to a higher amount.

Alimony and the Tax Overhaul

With alimony quite difficult to win in court, stay at home parents will often enter into divorce mediation with the intent of negotiating for alimony. Tax laws used to allow the spouse paying alimony to deduct this amount from their taxes, known as a divorce subsidy. Many stay at home parents benefited from the deduction as it gave their former spouse incentive to agree to alimony. Now, under the tax overhaul, the alimony deduction will be no more. Stay at home parents could be negatively impacted in their already difficult task of fighting for an alimony award.

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