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Dealing With Post-Divorce Litigation in Texas

The best case scenario for a Texas divorce is when the spouses are able to amicably resolve their outstanding child custody, support, and division of property issues without the need for extended litigation. Ideally, the divorce allows all sides to obtain a fresh start so they can move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, we all known situations–including perhaps our own–where this ideal outcome proves impossible.

Texas Supreme Court Intervenes in Post-Divorce “Slander of Title” Dispute

If there is a worst case scenario, it is one where a spouse continues to litigate issues even after they have been addressed by the court. In some situations a spouse may go too far and engage in questionable conduct that draws a judicial sanction. This is why it is critical to work with an experienced Galveston divorce attorney both during and after a divorce, as you never know what ancillary problems may arise if the other spouse feels wronged in some way.

The Supreme Court of Texas recently addressed a dispute that has its roots in just such a post-divorce scenario. The parties in this case divorced more than eight years ago. The ex-husband received sole ownership of the family business as part of the final division of property, and in exchange he was required to pay his ex-wife $10,000 per month for the next four-plus years, until he paid a total of $500,000. The spouses were also named as joint managing conservators–i.e., awarded joint legal custody–of their minor children.

Both of these divorce terms led to subsequent litigation. In 2011, the trial court held the ex-wife in contempt “for violating the standing child-possession orders on 14 different occasions.” Contempt is serious business, even in a family law dispute: the judge ordered the ex-wife to spend seven days in jail.

The more recent dispute arose from the ex-husband’s obligation to pay his ex-wife $500,000 over 50 months. The problem was not that he failed to make the payments. He did. It was that after he purchased a new house following the divorce, the ex-wife recorded an abstract of judgment, which effectively noted a $500,000 lien against the property. The ex-husband only learned about this years later when he moved to sell the house.

In fact, a proposed sale fell through because the ex-wife refused to release her lien, forcing the ex-husband to carry the costs of two properties. The ex-husband then sued the ex-wife, accusing her of “slander of title.” A trial court sided with the ex-husband and awarded him over $98,000 in damages. The Texas Supreme Court reversed the award, however, holding it was “based in part on erroneous measure and unsupported by the evidence,” and returned the case to the lower courts for a recalculation.

How Can Our Galveston Divorce Attorneys Help You?

The fact that the spouses above continue to litigate more than eight years after their marriage ended is not typical outcome. But it does illustrate how post-divorce issues can require the ongoing assistance of a qualified family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in Galveston if you need help with any divorce or family law matter.