Married for 10 Years: What Does it Mean?

Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

In late June 2015, the day after their tenth wedding anniversary, a well-known couple married for 10 years often featured in the tabloids announced they were getting a divorce. Headlines questioned whether there was any legal significance to sustaining the marriage for 10 years when gossip about the impending split had been raging for months. The truth is, there are different laws applying to a 10 years marriage and more.

Texas and a 10 Years Marriage

Alimony, or spousal maintenance, as it is referred to under Texas law, is rarely awarded. But, if a couple has been married for 10 years, one party may be awarded support. It is not a guarantee, but if the requesting spouse is unable to provide for his or her minimal needs because one of the three following criteria, support may be awarded.

  • The requesting spouse is mentally or physically disabled; or
  • The requesting spouse must provide substantial care or supervision of a child; or
  • The requesting spouse lacks earning capacity in the current labor market.

If the requesting spouse is physically or mentally disabled, spousal maintenance may be awarded for life. Under the other two situations, support will be for a maximum of three years.

Social Security and a 10 Years Marriage

At retirement age, if the marriage lasted for 10 years, either party may apply for benefits on the other spouse’s employment record. This does not affect the ex-spouses benefit nor the benefits a second or subsequent spouse may receive. There are other rules that apply so you should consult with your divorce attorney for details.

If you are considering divorce and are nearing the 10-year mark, you should speak to experienced divorce attorneys who can advise you on whether you should wait and finalize your divorce until after your 10 year anniversary.


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