Alimony and Common Law Marriage

Live at Five’s board certified family attorney, Sonya Coffman, answers questions submitted by Southeast Texas KFDM News viewers. These questions include:

  • Is anyone going through a divorce eligible for alimony?
  • When does common law marriage take effect?


some states require one spouse to pay alimony or financial support to the other spouse after a divorce but there have been some recent legislative changes right here in Texas laws Live at Five’s family attorney Sonya Coffman joins us now with details alimony that's not something you hear of too much in Texas no it's not a very favorite thing in Texas it all but this year the Texas legislature expanded the amount and the time that a spouse can get alimony after the divorce it used to be that ten years I’m sorry that you had to be married ten years but thirty six months was the maximum time that a spouse could collect alimony now the legislature has expanded that up to ten years in the event of a very long marriage of thirty years or more so there’s a sliding scale in between so it's worth looking at lot and also the legislature expanded the amount it used to be limited to twenty five hundred a month but now the legislature has raised it to five thousand so is everybody going through divorce I mean if they fit that requirement eligible for alimony or not necessarily not necessarily um the spouse has to show that they lack sufficient property to meet their minimum reasonable needs in order to qualify and they have to show they’ve been married at least ten years so not everyone will meet that parameter but there are expanding options for people who do so if you fit in those parameters you may want to check with your attorney before you follow through with that divorce absolutely well let's go to our KFDM News Facebook page we've got several questions when does common law take effect and I gather this reader wants to get out of a relationship before it does so I’ll know when to ditch her before it does wow well there is not time limit or time requirement as in some states in Texas someone can be informally married if they meet the criteria and that is that they live together uh as husband and wife in the state of Texas that they agree to be married and that they held out to others that they were married so if they just live together and male and female living together that's not considered common law marry not at all they have to have an agreement to be married and I have to do something in furtherance of that such as file a joint tax return as though they're married so it's very easy to get in a common law marriage and very difficult to get out you have to file a divorce just as if you went to were married to this person yes okay another question I left my husband moved to Texas my ex is soon to be in a different state how does that work how does that work as far as I don't know they have children or not if they have children I’m assuming that would be an issue because the child is as far as visitation right if they can most decrees that were entered in Texas have a rule that if the spouse lives a hundred miles away you go to a different visitation schedule so presumably the decree would spell that out and I would check the decree and find that out okay another question for my final decree of divorce my ex-husband was ordered to pay me back spousal support and various bills he told me he's not going to pay me is there anything I can do how do I go about getting judgments against him yes there is something this woman can do and she needs to file petition for enforcement in the court that entered the divorce decree and in that petition she would recite the provision of the decree that he's not complied with and ask that can be held in contempt and ordered to pay that if the court finds this spouse in contempt the court can also order an award of attorneys fees at the same time okay so get in touch with your attorney yes well thanks so much we appreciate it we're out of time but if you have a question about family law you can let Sonya answer your questions all you need to do is fax us eight nine two seven three oh five email us at or you can post them on our KFDM News Facebook page