Palimony refers to spousal support paid where the parties in question were never married. Palimony is not a legal term and states do not typically provide for it by name, but some do provide alimony for partners that were never married, provided they meet certain criteria. Texas generally disfavors palimony and there are only limited circumstances in which parties that have not been legally married may claim spousal support against one another.
Texas Palimony Overview
Unmarried couples that are granted the rights of married couples are typically referred to as 'common law marriages.' Texas law refers, in Texas Family Code § 8.061, to 'unmarried cohabitants,' but only to expressly state that an order for maintenance, another term for spousal support, is not authorized for unmarried cohabitants under any circumstances.
However, there is one small exception. Annulment is a process where the court finds that the underlying marriage was invalid. In limited circumstances, a party to a marriage that was annulled, called the 'putative spouse' in Texas, may still be eligible for spousal support. This would technically qualify as palimony, since there was no legal marriage.
The following chart includes the qualifications for both annulment and spousal support that must be met under Texas palimony laws.
Annulment and Spousal Support
Texas Family Code Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 8, Subchapter B, 8.060
The putative spouse:
- Was unaware of the existing impediment to a valid marriage; and
- Is otherwise qualified to receive maintenance under this chapter.
- The paying spouse was convicted or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence committed either:
- During the marriage but no more than two years before the suit for divorce; or
- During the pendency of the divorce itself.
- Or, the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to support their reasonable needs and:
- Their inability is due to physical or mental disability;
- Their inability is due to their responsibility as the custodian of a child of the marriage who needs exceptional care due to their physical or mental disability; or
- The marriage lasted 10 or more years.
Alimony awards are payable for:
- Up to 5 years if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the paying spouse was abusive, or the marriage was 10-20 years long;
- Up to 7 years if the marriage was 20-30 years long;
- Up to 10 years if the marriage was more than 30 years long;
- Where the petitioning spouse or their dependent child is disabled the alimony may be indefinite, providing the underlying basis for alimony persists.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
For more information about palimony laws in Texas, click the following links:
Have More Questions About Texas Palimony Laws? Contact an Attorney
Seeking palimony in Texas is extraordinarily difficult. The qualifications for an annulment, in combination with qualifications for alimony, mean that only very carefully prepared petitions will be approved. The best way to increase your chances of receiving palimony is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who will be well-versed in Texas palimony laws and guide you through the process of seeking palimony.