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Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Four

Thank you for coming back to the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, for reading more about Enforcement actions in a family law court. Today’s post will discuss how to defend yourself against an enforcement action based on the failure to pay spousal maintenance.

We will then get into what you can ask a court to do to ensure that future child support is paid to you as ordered and how to go about collecting previously unpaid amounts of child support.

Defenses against enforcement actions for the failure to pay spousal maintenance

If you are ordered to pay an ex-spouse spousal maintenance and at some point in time stop doing so, your ex-spouse has the right to file an enforcement petition against you. However, as we noted in yesterday’s blog post that dealt in the area of child support defenses, you are not entirely out of luck if you have not been keeping up with your court-ordered obligation.

Just as in child support matters, you can have a legitimate inability to pay the spousal maintenance as ordered. If you cannot deliver due to not having any income, no property that can be sold to make up the difference, and have not been able to borrow money to pay the spousal maintenance, then you can have the lawsuit filed by your ex-spouse dismissed.

If you find yourself in a position where you will need to defend yourself based on these sorts of reasons, be prepared for your ex-spouse’s attorney to serve you with discovery requests to verify that you have no additional sources of income or property from which your spousal maintenance obligation can be met.

In a recent case, our office had filed an enforcement suit based on an opposing party’s failure to pay spousal maintenance as he had been ordered to do. In his Answer, he noted that he had no sources of income to pay the maintenance.

Immediately I requested tax returns and other financial documents be submitted to me for review. Eventually, we learned that this gentleman had real estate holdings that were more substantial than even our client had speculated.

Rather than proceed to court with this rickety defense, the gentleman and our client came to a settlement on the amounts that were previously due.

To the victor go the spoils: how to collect on a judgment in a child support enforcement case.

If you go through with an enforcement hearing and are successful in your attempt to prove that the other parent does owe child support, then you may be wondering how to translate that victory into actually getting money in your pocket. In the State of Texas, there are multiple avenues for collecting on a child support judgment.

Income Withholding

Income withholding is probably the most straightforward approach to take. For more people who are not self-employed, a court can place a withholding order on their paycheck where that money can be transferred to you.

The idea is to have the amount owed in child support paid off within two years after the judgment is entered through an income withholding order. If your opposing party is self-employed, then a court may order them to pay payments directly to you to pay the arrearage.

Child Support Liens

A lien may be placed on the property of a person who owes child support as well. This can cover personal and real property owned by the other parent in your situation.

A remedy such as this has a bit more moving pieces than a straight income withholding remedy, so you would probably be best served to discuss this potential option with your attorney before requesting that it be put in place upon the order of a court.

Suspending licenses

A lesser-known but powerful tool for ensuring that past child support amounts are paid is suspending any licenses held by child support obligors. You would need to file a separate petition to have the charges filed and then notify the parent who owes the child support of what you are attempting to accomplish.

If they respond to your petition, a hearing would be held to determine whether or not it is appropriate to suspend a license given the facts and circumstances of your case.

What sort of licenses may be suspended? Driver’s rights, as well as many professional licenses like those for physicians, engineers, and attorneys, can be broken by submitting an order from your family court to the body that issues a special permit.

Child support amounts owed must be equal or greater than three months old, and the parent who owes the money must have been allowed to make payments to get current on these amounts. If there has been a continued failure to make payments under the structure of a court order, then any licenses that can be suspended under state law may be in line for possible suspension.

Other instances that can potentially warrant the suspension of a license include circumstances where an enforcement order has been in place, and the other parent has failed to comply with that provision related to possession andand access of a child.

If your child’s other parent hasn’t been abiding by the possession schedule in your first order and still hasn’t followed it after a subsequent enforcement hearing, then license suspension may be on the table as an option to pursue.

Still more to come on the subject of Enforcement suits from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

There are additional remedies for persons who are successful in their enforcement suits, and I will spend at least one more blog post on them for those interested in returning to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, in the next few days.

If you have questions about any subject we’ve discussed so far, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. A licensed family law attorney is available six days a week to discuss your case and answer questions in a free-of-charge consultation.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Three
  2. Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Two
  3. Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law: An Overview
  4. Child Support Enforcement Defense - Act Sooner Rather than Later
  5. Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
  6. Child Support Modification in Texas (Part 1)
  7. What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
  8. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  9. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  10. Texas Child Support Appeals
  11. In Texas, are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  12. Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
  13. When does your duty to pay child support end in Texas?
  14. Should a Divorced Parent Sign a Waiver (Release) and Indemnity Agreement to Allow a Child to Participate in Recreational Activities?

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