Protecting Your Family's Future
 

Frequently Asked Questions about Alimony in Texas

Frequently Asked Questions about Alimony in Texas

Though alimony or spousal maintenance is not as common in Texas as it was a generation ago, the court still has the discretion to order payment of spousal support, based on a variety of factors. Our Baytown family law attorney answers some of the most common questions divorce parties have regarding the payment of alimony in Texas.

What Are the Different Types of Alimony?

In Texas, alimony can take three different forms: temporary, contractual or spousal maintenance. A grant of temporary alimony is in force only while the divorce proceeding is still pending. It ensures that the recipient has some means of support until a final divorce decree is entered. A “contractual” grant of alimony allows the parties to put spousal support payment in the final divorce order. The parties have the flexibility to negotiate the amount, as well as the duration of payments. If the parties cannot agree to a contractual grant of alimony, the court will order “spousal maintenance,” a grant of periodic payments after a divorce is final.

What Are the Factors the Court Considers When Granting Alimony?

The court has absolute discretion to grant alimony, based on the following factors:

  • the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse’s ability to meet the spouse’s needs independently
  • the education and job skills of the spouses
  • the length of the marriage
  • the age, employment history, earning ability, and health condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that spouse’s personal needs
  • the dissipation of any marital assets
  • the financial resources of the spouses
  • the contribution by one spouse to the education or earning capacity of the other
  • any pre-marital property
  • the contribution of a spouse as homemaker
  • any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling as provided by Chapter 304, Labor Code

Alimony in Texas

How Do You Enforce Payment of Alimony?

It depends on the type of alimony. If it’s spousal maintenance, and there’s a court order, failure to pay is considered contempt of court. If, on the other hand, it’s contractual alimony, the failure to pay is breach of contract and must be enforced through a breach of contract action in court.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our family law attorney at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Texas Divorce Basics

Texas Divorce Law—The Basics

If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, you probably have a lot of questions—here are answers to some of the most basic questions about divorce.

Do I Have to Give a Reason for Wanting a Divorce?

No. In Texas, you can ask for a divorce with or without stating the grounds. In a no-fault divorce, you need only advise the court that you have irreconcilable differences. You can, however, state grounds, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, felony conviction or confinement in a mental institution. If the court agrees, you may be able to get more than an equal share of marital property.

Do I Have to Be a Texas Resident? If So, For How Long?

Texas does not have jurisdiction over a divorce proceeding unless one of the parties has been a resident of the state for at least six months, and a resident of the county in which the action is filed for at least three months.

How Long Will It Take for My Divorce to Be Final?

That will vary, depending on a number of factors, including the ability of the parties to agree on custody, visitation, support and property distribution. At a minimum, however, a divorce cannot be finalized for at least 60 days after the filing of the complaint.

How Will Property Be Divided?

Property will be divided under the community property laws of Texas.

Is Alimony Available in Texas?

Texas law allows alimony in limited situations, typically where the recipient lacks the ability to be self-supporting, has a physical or mental disability, or cannot take care of himself or herself.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

Ultimately, the court must be satisfied that the custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interests of the minor children. The parties may agree to a specific arrangement, but the court may reject that agreement if it determines that it was entered into under duress or coercion, or is not in the child’s best interests.

How Does the Court Calculate Child Support?

Texas uses a formula that includes the income of both parties, the needs of the child, and any other special factors.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

She Claims I Am the Father of Her Child

Challenging Paternity in Texas

When you’ve had an intimate relationship with a woman and she’s pregnant, or has a child and claims it’s yours, what are your options when you are certain you’re not, or learn that it’s unlikely or questionable?

How Paternity is Established in Texas

Under Texas law, paternity can be established three different ways:

  • By presumption—If you were married to the mother at the time of birth, for a period of time before the birth, or simply lived with her continuously for two years prior to the birth, you are presumed to be the father. That presumption can, however, be challenged and you can voluntarily take a DNA paternity test to refute paternity.
  • By voluntary acknowledgement—You can sign a legally binding document known as an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” If you obtain subsequent evidence that you may have signed the acknowledgement in error, you may be able to have it voided, based on the results of a DNA paternity test.
  • By court order—The mother, father or child (in limited circumstances) may ask the court to issue an order declaring paternity.

DNA Testing

Under modern DNA testing, paternity can be determined with a great deal of accuracy. Courts, though, typically require that the test find a 99% chance of paternity.

It is not necessary, though, to obtain a court order to have genetic DNA testing done. However, you will need biological information from both alleged parents.

Contact Us

At the law office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online.

We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our office is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

What Happens When a Party Stops Paying Child Support?

The Impact of Not Paying Child Support in Texas

You may be a custodial parent wondering what your options are when your ex-spouse stops paying child support. Or, as the noncustodial parent, you may have lost your job or be unable to make child support payments for some other reason. This blog provides an overview of what can happen when a person stops making child support payments as ordered by a Texas court.

The Sanctions a Court May Impose for Nonpayment of Child Support

In Texas, the state attorney general’s office handles legal actions to enforce child support orders. Because the law in Texas requires that the noncustodial parent have child support withheld from his or her paycheck, as long as the noncustodial parent is working child support should be collected. However, if the noncustodial parent becomes unemployed or is self-employed, nonpayment issues may arise.

When a noncustodial parent stops making child support payments, that parent is technically in violation of a court order. This violation of a court order can be construed as contempt of court. Accordingly, the attorney general can take legal action, which could include criminal sanctions, if a nonpaying party is found to be in contempt of court.

Other actions that can be taken in response to the failure to pay child support include:

  • Interception of tax refunds — the attorney general may attach any state or federal income tax refunds
  • Suspension of driving privileges
  • Suspension of professional or business licenses
  • Suspension of passport
  • Attachment of any lottery winnings

It’s important to understand that the loss of a job does not have any impact on a child support order. To change a support order, you must request a modification from the court. Typically, unless you are without work for a significant period of time or can show that it is unlikely that you will return to work or will be able to find work, the court will not change your order. Instead, an arrearage will accrue.

Questions About What Happens When a Party Stops Paying Child Support? Custody, Divorce, and Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to parents involved in relocation issues, child support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about how to stop your ex from moving away with your child, or other custody, divorce, or family law matters, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

Can I Represent Myself in a Divorce Proceeding?

Representing Yourself in a Divorce Proceeding

There’s an old adage that says that a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. With the extensive material available to walk you through a divorce proceeding, and with access to the Internet, is this still true?

You Can Represent Yourself

Texas law does not prohibit you from acting pro se (on behalf of yourself). Before you decide to act as your own attorney, though, it’s really important to understand the risks.

  • Will you be taken advantage of by your ex-spouse or by opposing counsel? If there is little at stake — no children, no property, no likelihood of alimony — there is likely little risk and representing yourself may pose no problems. However, if there is any complexity to your case, you will be at a distinct disadvantage if your ex-spouse has an experienced attorney. You may find yourself participating in hearings or conversations in which you have little or no understanding of what is being discussed.
  • Do you have the time to properly prepare? A divorce can be a time-consuming matter. If you work full time and have children, you may find it difficult to find time to prepare. You may need to review documents, research case law, prepare pleadings and attend hearings.
  • Do you fully understand all your options? Do you know about mediation or negotiated settlements? Are you comfortable negotiating with an experienced lawyer?

What You Will Have to Do

The divorce process is fairly complex, with a very specific timeline. First, you will need to prepare certain documents. If you are seeking the divorce, you will have to prepare and file a divorce complaint (known as a petition) with the court. If you are being sued for divorce, you have the right to file an answer to the petition. Your petition will tell the court who you are and what you want the court to do. You must also provide formal notice to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce.

Once you file the petition, the court will issue “standing orders,” essentially ground rules for while your divorce is in process. If there are contested matters, the court may designate a specific period of time for “discovery,” when the parties prepare and exchange information to help determine the outcome. Once you have come to agreement on all issues, you must put your agreements in writing and have the court issue an order documenting the terms of your divorce.

Questions About Represent yourself in a Divorce Proceeding? Custody, Divorce, and Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to parents involved in relocation issues, child support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about how to stop your ex from moving away with your child, or other custody, divorce, or family law matters, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

What if My Husband Can No Longer Pay Child Support?

Rarely are parents thrown in jail for not paying child support and alimony. However, Ari Schochet, age 41, is an exception. The 41 year old, who used to earn $1 million annually, was jailed eight times in the past two years after the end of his nearly 20 year marriage. The reason he hadn’t paid is common: he lost his job and ran through savings in an effort to pay the nearly $100,000 yearly support and alimony.

Fathers owe more than $96 billion in child support arrears. Interestingly, 70 percent of child support debt is owed by fathers who earn $10,000 annually or less or have no wages on the books at all, according to the Central Office of Child Support Enforcement.

If your ex-husband cannot pay because he lost his job or due to a medical condition, then he must return to the court and seek a child support modification. You can’t get money out of a stone, unfortunately. If the father of your child doesn’t seek a modification, then he will continue to be held accountable for every penny of the debt. Even if he files for bankruptcy, child support debts are not forgiven.

Contact a Child Support Modification Attorney

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. If you have questions about getting or paying child support, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation regarding default and uncontested divorces, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

How to Keep Expenses Down in a Texas Divorce

Divorce is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, it is wise to think ahead about how to save money before, during, and after the divorce process. You might think it strange that a divorce attorney would offer suggestions for saving money, since we make our living from the fees our clients pay. However, at Stewart Law, PLLC, we are committed to our clients’ best interests, which includes saving money during the legal process. Here are our suggestions:

  • Resolve as many disagreements informally as possible. Divorces get expensive when the conflicts get heated. That’s when attorneys’ fees pile up. It benefits your bottom line to limit your disagreements to those that are absolutely critical to your future happiness and success. Don’t fight every step of the way.
  • Agree with your spouse ahead of time that you will strive to keep costs low. This only works, of course, if you are involved in an amicable divorce.
  • Don’t forget about tax implications. Every divorce has implications for your future income taxes, and it can save a lot of money in the future if you consult a certified public accountant before you sign any agreement.
  • Don’t overlook any assets. Texas is a community property state, which means that assets acquired or enhanced during the marriage are presumed to be equally the property of both spouses. Really comb through your marital history to recall any and all assets that you can make a claim to.
  • Make a realistic assessment of whether you need financial help from your spouse to get back on your feet and into the workforce. Alimony may be almost dead in Texas, but it has not breathed its last. In some situations, for example in the case of a stay-at-home parent who must rejoin the workforce, Texas divorce judges will still grant temporary spousal maintenance.

You can estimate the amount of child support you will receive or pay using the Texas child support calculator offered online by the Texas Office of the Attorney General.

Looking for additional information about lowering costs during a divorce? Stewart Law, PLLC, can provide advice and guidance. Located in Baytown, Texas, we have provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and family law matters for 8 years. For an initial assessment and consultation of your case, contact us online  or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
Left Menu Icon
Stewart Law PLLC