Child Support Discussion

How Does Spousal Support Enforcement Work In Texas?

A person filing for divorce may seek spousal support from their ex-spouse. In Texas, the family court can order one spouse to make maintenance payments to the other.

The parties can also agree to spousal support payments through a property settlement agreement in lieu of a finding by the court.

Court-ordered maintenance

If the court-ordered maintenance does not get paid, the party who is to receive payments can request enforcement of the order by the court. The court can hold the non-paying party in contempt for failure to abide by the court order. If the spouse gets held in contempt, they may have to pay a fine or serve jail time. The court can also enter a judgment for amounts owed against the payor. The decision can include a withholding order to the payor's employer to take the funds out of that person's paycheck.

Contractual agreement

If the parties agree to spousal support payments as part of a property settlement agreement, the court can enforce these obligations. The property settlement will need to get incorporated into the court's final divorce decree. The court can only enforce up to the maximum that it could order for maintenance under the statute.

Defenses to enforcement

A party can avoid an enforcement action if they cannot pay the amount owed. They would also need to show that they did not have assets to sell to satisfy the debt and could not borrow funds to pay it.

Texas courts take spousal maintenance payments seriously and will enforce any obligations.