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My Ex Isn’t Paying Alimony! What Now?

Texas is not a generous state when it comes to alimony, called maintenance. You can only receive a maintenance award in specific circumstances and usually for a limited amount of time. In other states, judges regularly award permanent alimony, which could run for decades. But Texas has chosen a different path. Nonetheless, if you are awarded maintenance, it is only reasonable for your ex to pay it. If they don’t, then unpaid alimony will pile up as “arrearages.”

Contact Tad Nelson & Associates if you’re not receiving maintenance as you expect. The court has various enforcement mechanisms available, and a Galveston spousal support lawyer can discuss how to proceed in greater detail.

Why Spouses Stop Paying

Just as we see some parents stop paying child support, we also aren’t surprised when a person stops making maintenance payments. Their reasons vary:

  • Retirement. There’s less income coming in, so they stop paying maintenance, making their retirement a priority.
  • Imprisonment. It’s hard to earn money when you’re in jail, and the maintenance recipient often has no idea.
  • New family. Your ex might have a new baby and decide to use all income to support the new family.
  • Spite/anger. Some exes strike back at an ex by withholding alimony.

There are any number of reasons. As the ex-spouse entitled to alimony, you probably don’t care about the reason. You need this money to help support yourself—which is why a judge awarded you maintenance in the first place. We’re glad you have come to Tad Nelson and Associates to learn more about enforcement.

How to Get Your Ex to Start Paying

Enforcement is easier said than done. We typically need to get the court involved. That means seeking contempt in the court which ordered maintenance.

Contempt is the legal term for defying a court order. When the judge ordered your ex to pay maintenance, that wasn’t a recommendation. It was a command backed up by the court’s coercive powers. When a person intentionally fails to comply with an order, a judge can find them in contempt.

We will file the necessary paperwork and explain how many payments your ex has missed. The judge should hold a hearing where the defaulting party (your ex) explains why they haven’t paid. Some failure to pay is an oversight or beyond your ex’s control.

We will need to prove lack of payment and how much is owed. A judge has many enforcement mechanisms, including a withholding order sent to your ex’s employer, who will withhold the alimony from each paycheck and then send it your way. That is often a good way to get payment when your ex can still work but simply chooses to avoid paying.

A Delinquent Spouse’s Defenses

Section 8.059 of the Texas Family Code does give your ex an affirmative defense for failure to pay maintenance. They can argue the following:

  • They don’t have the money to pay;
  • They don’t have any property they could sell to raise money;
  • They tried to borrow money but were unsuccessful; and
  • They don’t know of any source where they could get money.

Basically, they need to show they have tried and failed to get the funds to pay maintenance.

Modification of Maintenance

A delinquent ex might also try to get the judge to modify the maintenance order. He or she will need to show a material and substantial change of circumstances. That can include disability, job loss, and things of that nature. A judge might modify the order going forward, which doesn’t erase the arrearages but would reduce what they pay moving forward.

Your ex might also try to terminate maintenance completely. If you remarried, then the law states maintenance is terminated. Another reason is that you are cohabitating with a romantic partner.

If you moved in with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then there’s a real risk the judge will cut off any obligation to pay maintenance. Discuss with your lawyer in an upfront manner whether you have moved in with someone. You might have a roommate to reduce living expenses, but the relationship isn’t romantic. That’s fine. We want to be prepared for whatever argument your ex will make to the judge.

Get the Maintenance You Are Owed

Maintenance orders have helped countless Texans avoid poverty after divorce. Without this money, many people can’t afford their rent or mortgage, or they’d lose out on medical care. You deserve every penny of maintenance ordered by a judge. Our firm can hold your ex accountable for all maintenance arrearages. Call to schedule a free consultation.