Alimony vs Spousal Support: What’s the Difference?

You’ve heard these terms before. When people think of alimony and spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance) in a broad sense, they think of one spouse giving financial support to the other spouse after the two get divorced.

Generally speaking, this is correct. However, one mistake people make is to use the two terms interchangeably. While alimony and spousal support share commonalities, they’re not synonymous in Texas.

The Similarities Between Spousal Support and Alimony

When a couple decides to get divorced, they have an important issue to address if one spouse relies on the other financially. For example, one of the spouses might be a stay-at-home parent while the other has a revenue-generating job.

In this case, both people are putting hard work into their daily lives in order to support the family, but only one spouse is getting a paycheck. If the couple decides to get divorced, the stay-at-home parent will likely need financial support for a while.

Spousal support and alimony provide the same function in this scenario; each option involves the person who makes most or all of the money in the household providing financial support to the other spouse after the divorce.

The Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support in Texas

In some states, alimony and spousal support are the same things with spousal support simply being an updated term. In Texas, however, the two are very different, and the similarity stops at one spouse giving the other financial support.

In Texas, spousal support/maintenance is a court-ordered arrangement that’s only given if certain criteria are met. It’s not a certainty that when a couple gets divorced, a revenue-generating spouse will have to pay spousal support to their non-revenue-generating ex.

There are factors that play into the decision of spousal support, such as how long the couple was married, what their ages are, how much money each spouse has the potential to earn on their own, whether or not one parent was the primary caregiver for the children and more.

Alimony, in contrast, is not part of Texas family law. It’s not court-ordered and is only something contractual that’s set up between the spouses. Technically, nobody is legally required to sign an alimony agreement. However, once a person does sign the contract, it’s legally binding and the person must adhere to the payments.

Basically, spousal support is the law and is ordered by the court, while alimony is a civil matter determined entirely between the two parties who are getting a divorce.

Get Your Free Consultation with a Spousal Support Attorney in Arlington, Texas

Whether you need spousal support or you’re facing unfair payments, we can help you. The spousal support attorneys of the Schneider Law Firm in Arlington, Texas have the experience you can trust. Call us today at 817.799.7125 or send us a message to request your free initial consultation.