What is the Difference Between Court Ordered & Contractual Alimony?

Posted on : April 14, 2015

If you were not the primary wage earner in the household during your marriage, you may be able to get alimony during your divorce. Alimony is designed to assist individuals who are coming out of a marriage to learn to live independently and to help provide for many financial needs while you get back on your feet. There are two types of alimony — also called spousal maintenance — in Texas. Here’s what you need to understand about alimony and how it applies to your case.

Court Ordered Alimony

Court ordered alimony is much like its name implies — spousal maintenance that is ordered to be paid by one spouse to the other by the court. Court ordered alimony is quite difficult to get in Texas, and it is only ordered in certain situations. The courts are generally reluctant to order a spouse to pay alimony involuntarily, even in cases where one spouse stayed home during the marriage to care for the children or to allow the other spouse to continue building his or her career.

Alimony in Texas is most often ordered in situations of domestic violence, where one spouse has left the marriage due to violence against them, their children, or both. Other situations where alimony may be ordered is when a marriage has lasted more than 10 years, and the lesser earning spouse has made a diligent effort to seek employment during the divorce, but has been unable to meet basic income needs.

Contractual Alimony

Contractual alimony is generally “agreed upon” alimony, meaning that both spouses have agreed that one spouse will pay alimony to the other. The spouses will agree to the duration and how much alimony is to be paid and when. Unfortunately, contractual alimony is far less enforceable than court ordered alimony. If the spouse who agreed to pay alimony fails to do so, the court is generally not able to enforce it or compel the payor to adhere to the contract.

When to Call a Divorce Attorney

Anytime you are involved in a legal dispute, especially when there is a lot at stake such as in alimony cases, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced attorney in your area. At the Bourlon Law Firm, we know that alimony can be a challenging aspect of any divorce. Our divorce lawyers are well-versed in the laws that pertain to spousal maintenance in Texas, and we can provide you with comprehensive legal representation regardless of which side of the alimony issue you are on.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case in detail and to learn more about the legal options you have available to you. Call now at (361) 289-6040.