Spousal support, or alimony, continues to be a hot topic here in the state of Texas. Many residents believe alimony should not be an option, while others believe it helps lesser-earning spouses acquire financial independence.
Regardless of your personal opinion, if a family court tells you to pay alimony, you could get into trouble by refusing. It might help to view a spousal maintenance (support) order as a law. If you violate your court order, you invite legal repercussions, just as you would if you broke the law.
How does Texas enforce alimony orders?
Those ordered to pay spousal support will likely face contempt of court if they do not pay. Contempt proceedings can end with a judge ordering you to pay a fine or complete a term behind bars. In some cases, the person obligated to pay alimony may face jail time and a fine in contempt proceedings.
Even when you and your ex agreed to spousal maintenance voluntarily, you must still make your payments. If you do not, your ex could initiate legal proceedings against you for defaulting on your alimony payments.
What if I cannot afford spousal maintenance?
If you are having trouble meeting your alimony obligations, do not stop paying. Instead, consider asking for help proving you cannot pay and that you have made every good effort to comply. By taking this approach, you may be able to have your spousal maintenance order modified to make it more affordable. As you might imagine, this is a much better way to address your problems than violating a court order.
It is also a good idea to learn as much as possible about divorcing in Texas, including the laws governing spousal maintenance.