Payment of Contractual Alimony May Not Be Enforced by Putting Debtor in Jail

April 23, 2007

In Re Alvin Green, No. 06-0496 (Tex. Apr. 20, 2007)(per curiam)(contractual alimony not enforceable by contempt, habeas granted)

Alvin Green argues he cannot be imprisoned for nonpayment of a contractual alimony obligation incorporated into his divorce decree. The Court agreed that a court order to pay spousal support is unenforceable by contempt if the order merely restates a private debt rather than a legal duty imposed by Texas law.

Because the district court’s decree was not “spousal maintenance” ordered under the Family Code but rather was issued solely on the basis of the parties’ private alimony contract, they granted Alvin’s writ of habeas corpus and order him discharged. Source: Wolfgang Demino’s well researched “Texas Appellate Decisions and Commentary“.