Alimony Now Enforceable by Contempt
The only thing constant … is change. Prior this change in the Texas Family Code, which takes effect September 1, 2013, you could not hold a person in contempt for failing to pay contractual alimony. You could have them held in contempt for failure to pay court-ordered spousal support, but not contractual alimony. For an in-depth discussion on the differences, click here.
Now you can. The Texas Legislature has amended the Texas Family Code to allow a person to be held in contempt for failure to pay contractual alimony up to the amount, and for the amount of time, that the Court could have awarded spousal maintenance. The Court can even issue a wage-withholding order, at least to that limited amount, which it could not do before.
What I do not know is how the Texas Supreme Court will react. Under their recent opinion, on which I wrote an article, wage-withholding order for alimony was denied based on that alimony being a debt, and wage garnishment for a debt other than child support or court-ordered spousal maintenance is barred by the Texas Constitution. That means that on September 1, 2013, we may very well have another law that contradicts the Texas Constitution. Who said family law doesn’t have constitutional implications? We will have to see what happens.