What States Do Not Enforce Alimony?

Alimony, often referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is a court-ordered provision of financial support from one spouse to another after the dissolution of their marriage. But, what states do not enforce alimony? This article aims to explore which states do not enforce alimony and will especially focus on the state of Texas.

what states do not enforce alimony?

Alimony and State Laws

Generally, courts grant alimony when one spouse earns significantly more than the other and the court decides the lower-earning spouse needs financial assistance during or after a divorce. The specific alimony laws vary by state, including how the state calculates and enforces the alimony. Some states strictly enforce alimony while others have looser regulations, with a few not enforcing alimony at all.

States Not Enforcing Alimony

Alimony enforcement and regulations can greatly vary across states, with some states such as Texas, Mississippi, Utah, and North Carolina, demonstrating a more restrictive approach to this matter. Let’s take a closer look:


Recognized for its stringent alimony rules, Texas rarely grants alimony. The court will only consider awarding spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking support can convincingly show that they cannot meet their basic reasonable needs or if a specific condition impedes their ability to work.


Mississippi’s stance on alimony is noticeably reluctant. As per Mississippi law, courts only award alimony if one spouse demonstrates a significant need for financial assistance and the other spouse has the financial capacity to provide it. Interestingly, Mississippi doesn’t adopt a predefined methodology for determining the amount and duration of alimony payments. Instead, it approaches each case individually.


In Utah, the duration of alimony payments is strictly limited. Alimony can’t exceed the length of the marriage, and it’s a requirement that the spouse seeking support has earnestly tried to become self-supporting. Additionally, Utah law stipulates that alimony payments should not exceed the recipient’s necessary living expenses.

North Carolina

North Carolina grants alimony if one spouse is financially dependent on the other. However, the law in North Carolina includes a specific caveat: if the dependent spouse engaged in marital misconduct such as adultery, there is a rebuttable presumption against the award of alimony. Typically, the duration of alimony payments in North Carolina is restricted to half the length of the marriage.

Despite these restrictions, it’s important to note that even in states where alimony is typically limited or infrequently awarded, courts may still order spousal support when circumstances demand it. For a comprehensive understanding of your rights and obligations related to alimony in your specific state, it’s advisable to consult an experienced family law attorney.

What Are the Worst States for Alimony?

Certain states are known for their particularly burdensome alimony laws, often making them challenging for the spouse obligated to pay alimony. Here’s an overview of some states frequently deemed as the “worst” for alimony:


Florida’s regulations allow for lifetime alimony, making it often viewed as one of the most difficult states for alimony. This means, irrespective of any change in circumstances, a spouse who has been ordered to pay alimony might be obligated to continue payments for life. Florida also has a high threshold for modifying alimony payments, making it tough for payers to find relief if their financial situation changes.

New Jersey

Another state often criticized for its alimony laws is New Jersey. Here, a spouse could be required to pay alimony indefinitely, which means for the rest of their life. Moreover, New Jersey courts often resist to requests to change or end alimony payments, even if a party’s financial status drastically alters.


Massachusetts has a reputation for having some of the highest alimony rates in the US. In some cases, alimony awards given by Massachusetts courts exceed the recipient’s actual expenses, creating a challenging situation for the payer to meet their other financial obligations.


Often, people consider Pennsylvania one of the worst states for alimony due to its vague guidelines for calculating alimony payments. Consequently, it can be hard for alimony payers to predict their obligations, as alimony awards can vary widely from one case to another.

Understanding the alimony regulations in your state is crucial for anyone facing a divorce. Given the complexities of these laws and the significant financial implications, seeking professional legal advice is always a wise move.

Spotlight on Texas

Among all the states, Texas stands out for its unique approach to alimony. In Texas, alimony, known as “spousal maintenance,” is not easily granted. The Lone Star State maintains strict criteria for awarding spousal maintenance. The state’s goal is to ensure that it is only provided in cases of real necessity.

In Texas, for the court to consider spousal maintenance, the spouse seeking support must prove one of the following:

  • The marriage lasted at least ten years, and they lack the ability to earn sufficient income.
  • They are unable to earn sufficient income due to a physical or mental disability.
  • The one seeking alimony is the custodian of a child from the marriage who requires substantial care due to physical or mental disabilities.
  • They were a victim of family violence during the marriage.

Even when the court grants spousal maintenance, it has definite limitations. The amount cannot exceed $5,000 per month or 20% of the payer’s average monthly gross income, whichever is lower. Moreover, there is a limit on the duration of spousal maintenance payments, typically ranging from 5 to 10 years.

Closing Thoughts

Texas may not completely fall into the category of states not enforcing alimony. However, it certainly stands out for its rigid regulations concerning spousal maintenance. This strict approach aligns with the state’s philosophy of personal responsibility and self-reliance. Moreover, it emphasizes that alimony should be a last resort, not a default outcome. It’s essential for individuals dealing with divorce proceedings to understand the specific laws and regulations in their state to navigate this complex process effectively.

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