Once the dissolution of marriage is completed, you'd think life would start to get a bit easier. A divorce settlement is in place and all you have to do is abide by its terms. Well, what happens if you do everything you can to live up to the terms but your ex does not? Is there anything you can do?
The short and simple answer here is, yes, you can. The state of Texas does offer enforcement options if your ex fails to pay child support or alimony, refuses to follow a custody arrangement or fails to divide assets according to the divorce settlement.
What enforcement options are available?
It depends on what you need enforcing. When it comes to child support and spousal maintenance, enforcement options include:
- Wage garnishment
- Personal and professional license suspension
- Tax refund interception
- Credit reporting
- Jail time
There are others, but the goal is to get the non-paying spouse to become current on his or her financial obligation without having to take the issue to court.
When it comes to child custody and disagreements over settlement terms, you may have to take the matter to court. An ex who refuses to follow a custody plan or who does not abide by the terms of the divorce settlement may be held in contempt of court. If there is enough evidence to hold the offending party in contempt, the punishments include jail time, fines or both.
Depending on the issue at hand, sending the offending party to jail does not help the problem. A person cannot pay support if he or she is unable to work. Instead, the threat of jail may be offered and the offending party placed on probation. If he or she still refuses to pay, then he or she will likely end up behind bars.
Are any aspects of a court order not enforceable by contempt?
Yes. If you issue has to do with your ex not paying off debts per the terms of your divorce decree, that is something for court cannot enforce by contempt. Why? The law does not support imprisonment for failing to pay debts.
If your ex is failing to meet the terms of your divorce, there are enforcement options out there to help you. If you would rather change the terms of your divorce, modifications to certain aspects of it may be possible. An experienced family law attorney can review your case and provide information on all options available to you.