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Can income be withheld for spousal support in Texas?

Divorce legal issues can come in many forms in Texas. With certain couples, a dispute can arise over factors including how much one spouse will pay the other in spousal support. Some people who are supposed to make payments to a former spouse do not do so on time or don't make the payments at all. It is then that a receiving spouse might want to have the payer spouse's income withheld until the payments are up-to-date. Knowing how the law views this type of situation when it comes to alimony is key for both sides.

In general, if spousal support payments have been ordered, modified or must be enforced, then the court has the power to order that the obligor's disposable income be withheld. If periodic payments have voluntarily been agreed to be made and have been approved by the court, then there can be a withholding if they are not made. The court cannot order the withholding of income to the degree that the maintenance order is exceeded by the amount or for a time period that goes beyond the amount of time that the court could have ordered.

If the alimony is contractual or there is spousal maintenance, it does not apply in this situation unless the following is in place: The contract is specific in its permission that income can be withheld if unpaid or if the payments have not been made in a timely fashion based on the contract. It is possible that there be a combination of support payments for children and support payments to the former spouse if the person receiving the payments is the conservator of the child and has the child living in his or her home. Unemployment benefits cannot be garnished to pay for spousal support.

The withholding of funds goes in a certain order if there are children. The children will be paid for first, next will be the spousal support, then there will be support arrears and finally spousal support arrears. While income withholding is often linked to failure to pay child support, it can also arise with spousal support. Those who are involved in a dispute about paying support to the former spouse or are not receiving what they are supposed to should immediately contact an experienced divorce lawyer for assistance.

Source:, "Sec. 8.101. Income Withholding; General Rule, accessed on Nov. 2, 2015

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