Alimony Now Enforceable by Contempt

The only thing constant … is change.  Prior this change in the Texas Family Code, which takes effect September 1, 2013, you could not hold a person in contempt for failing to pay contractual alimony.  You could have them held in contempt for failure to pay court-ordered spousal support, but not contractual alimony.  For an in-depth discussion on the differences, click here.

Now you can.  The Texas Legislature has amended the Texas Family Code to allow a person to be held in contempt for failure to pay contractual alimony up to the amount, and for the amount of time, that the Court could have awarded spousal maintenance.  The Court can even issue a wage-withholding order, at least to that limited amount, which it could not do before.

What I do not know is how the Texas Supreme Court will react.  Under their recent opinion, on which I wrote an article, wage-withholding order for alimony was denied based on that alimony being a debt, and wage garnishment for a debt other than child support or court-ordered spousal maintenance is barred by the Texas Constitution.  That means that on September 1, 2013, we may very well have another law that contradicts the Texas Constitution.  Who said family law doesn’t have constitutional implications?  We will have to see what happens.

About CJ.Harding
Chris believes one of the most important aspects of family law is seeing the 'big picture.' This means understanding the law, the facts of your case and the range of possible outcomes. Only after knowing each of those can an attorney convey the risks and potential results and guide you to make the right decision for your case, your life and your family. He understands every person and every case is unique. Chris will advocate for the very best possible result in your case. He has worked on a variety of family law cases, including tracing of assets, property division of estates worth more than one million dollars, international and interstate child custody issues, enforcement actions as well as pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Chris continues to be a student of the Law and helps to educate others by maintaining the "Hot Topics" section of the Firm web site, which features current issues in Texas family law. Topics have included how a bankruptcy can affect child support and the differences between alimony and court ordered spousal maintenance. Chris joined the firm after graduating cum laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. During his time at SMU, Chris competed in numerous mock and moot competitions and placed nationally. Chris is a native Texan, growing up in the Houston area and completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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