In Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee, for example, alimony is awarded only in cases of marriage or civil union of ten years or longer and the payments are limited to three years unless there are special, extenuating circumstances.
Furthermore, the amount of spousal support is limited to the lesser of ,500 per month or 40% of the payee's gross income.
This law sets limits on alimony and eliminates lifetime alimony.
As a result, the requirement to pay alimony became linked to the concept of fault in the divorce.
One who allows his or her alimony obligations to go into arrears, where there is an ability to pay, may be found in contempt of court and be sent to jail.
Some state statutes, including those of Texas, Montana, Kansas, Utah, Kentucky and Maine, give explicit guidelines to judges on the amount and/or duration of alimony.
If one party is already receiving support at the time of the divorce, the previous order is not automatically continued (although this can be requested), as the arguments for support during and after the marriage can be different.
Unless the parties agree on the terms of their divorce in a binding written instrument, the court will make a determination based on the legal argument and the testimony submitted by both parties.