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“. 


Show Me The Money..Honey: Temporary Maintenance

April 2, 2006

In cases in which one party is the primary wage earner, that party has an ongoing duty to support their spouse. Just because a divorce has been filed doesn’t change that obligation. At a temporary order hearing, the judge has the power to order one spouse to make support payments to the other until a final decree is entered. (TFC 6.502). If they fail to make this payment, they could be found in contempt of court. (TFC 6.506(a)(2)) If they continue to refuse to pay that “*itch” or “b*asterd”, the may find themselves in “j*il” under a contempt order for up to 18 months (Texas Government Code 21.002(f).

A common tactic while one party is paying support to another is to try to delay the end of the trial and “lezzes les bon temps roule” (let the good times roll) in regards to receiving the temporary spousal maintenance. That is why some attorneys will request that the temporary spousal maintenance remains just that..TEMPORARY and ask that a limit of three to six months be put on the obligation to pay. Most judges will allow that. But even if this limit is not requested in the temporary orders, the court may listen to a motion to modify the temporary orders in which the benefiting spouse is receiving payments, but has made no efforts to seek employment or make other financial arrangments to support his or herself after the divorce. Since the State of Texas does not beleive in permanent alimony, the courts will not allow a spouse to suckle at the money teet longer than is necessary to be weened and go out to forage on their own.

Remember we are only talking about spousal support here. CHILD SUPPORT is a whole other matter…