The Changing Rules of Texas Alimony Enforcement

Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in Alimony, Divorce

To say that the laws affecting the enforcement of spousal maintenance and contractual alimony are in flux would not be overstating the case. Any divorce lawyer contracted to assist in getting some action going against an ex-spouse who fails or refuses to pay alimony would have to be updated with the many changes that have been implemented regarding alimony in Texas.

As a whole, Texas considers alimony against public policy, and will only award it under specific conditions and for a limited time. Failure to comply with court-ordered spousal maintenance is considered contempt of court and may involve prison time for the non-compliant spouse. According to an article on the BB Law Group PLLC website, a divorce lawyer would be of invaluable assistance in enforcing alimony payments.

In some divorce settlements, provisions for alimony (contractual alimony) were included as a way to offset property division of community property which cannot easily be liquidated or would diminish significantly in value if so liquidated may be approved by the court in the final divorce decree. Until quite recently, the court could not cite the defaulting ex-spouse for contempt of court because contractual alimony is not court-ordered, although it is court-approved. The receiving spouse could however find relief by suing the ex-spouse for breach of contract.

An amendment provided that the receiving spouse may request that the amount of the contractual alimony be withheld from the ex-spouse’s wages provided that the divorce settlement specifically includes this in its methods of enforcement. A more recent amendment in the Texas Family Code now allows the court to cite the ex-spouse in default for contractual alimony payment for contempt provided that:

  • It complies with the rules, conditions and limitations set forth in §8.059 for spousal maintenance
  • It does not exceed the maximum amount allowable under law unless the contract specifically provides for it

Even with these amendments, enforcement contractual alimony remains limited. You need a divorce lawyer to tell assess your case and to inform you of your legal options for enforcing the payment of alimony.

Learn More