July 6, 2006
By: Susan Price, Principal Legislative Analyst
You asked if any states require spousal support (alimony) to be set based on a formula.
Texas and Kansas are the only states that have any statute limiting the court's discretion in ordering spousal support. Both states limit how long an ex-spouse can receive support, and Texas prohibits any alimony for brief marriages. Several other states have non-binding guidelines or “rules of thumb” (Arizona (Phoenix only), California (Santa Clara County, but only until final decree is entered), Florida (some counties), Michigan (some counties), New Mexico (only until final decree is entered), Oregon, and Pennsylvania (only until final decree is entered). The guidelines may be created by court rule, bar association recommendations, or multidisciplinary committees.
Please let us know if you would like information about the non-binding formulae.
Texas requires a five year marriage for post-divorce maintenance, except in the case of disability. Support is limited to $2,500 per month for up to three years (Texas Family Code Chapter 8054).
Kansas law limits spousal support to 121 months with the option of one extension of up to 121 months. A few Kansas county bar associations have non-binding guidelines that provide that spousal support should be 20% of the difference between the parties' gross incomes when there are minor children and 25% of the difference when there are no children. The spousal support timeline is two years for a five-year marriage plus 33% for each additional year married (Kansas Statutes Chap. 60-article 16-subject: 1610).