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How do I enforce contractual alimony payments?

San Antonio, TX |
Filed under: Alimony

I was awarded contractual alimony and my ex hasn't paid. Is enforcement the same as court-ordered alimony?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

Good question - the answer is no, the two are treated differently and you have different options. Court-Ordered means your ex is disobeying a court order, can be fined and jailed. Contractual means he has breached a contract and you must sue for breach of contract (in the same court the order issued from).

Send a demand letter first - those are free for you to send, but you need to make sure you follow all the requirements. If he fails to pay, file suit and have him served. You might find an attorney to draft the Demand Letter and petition for a flat fee... you should certainly at least have one walk you through the process. Also, St. Mary's in San Antonio has a law school and probably a law library with plenty of resources and forms to look at.

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Asker

Posted

In a 2011 Final Decree, the husband agreed to pay contractual alimony, the wife was to return property to him. She did not return the property, he stopped making payments. She filed an enforcement action, the court made clarifying orders that the contractual alimony can now be enforced by contempt. The court did not address his counter enforcement claim for the wife's failure to return his property. Additionally, the parties agreed in writing with notarized affidavits that the contractual alimony was to be for a period of 24 months. The attorney that drafted the decree erred and entered 48 months. (I am a paralegal and I just started working on this case, my boss asked me to research the issues). What happens if the husband does not make the payments? And would a Nunc Pro Tunc be the best remedy for the mistake of 48 months instead of 24? Are there any good articles or CLE on enforcement of contractual alimony? Thanks!

Asker

Posted

Sorry, that was not meant to be anonymous, I currently work for an attorney in Austin. Thanks

Christopher Jay Harding

Christopher Jay Harding

Posted

It sounds like the Court reclassified the contractual alimony as spousal support. You would have to appeal that decision... also, by not addressing his enforcement, the court most likely considered it denied. You COULD file a motion to clarify to make sure, or re assert the claim in another motion. The nunc pro tunc probably won't work. That is only for 'clerical' errors, and while that was a great option before the court addressed the (now) support, the nunc should have been done way before the actions were filed or concurrently. If the client doesn't pay the last half, seems now that the Court would be amendable to enforcing it against him, though he could certainly try to classify it as a breach of contract case. It's a hard win, since those notarized statements would most likely be parole evidence and not admissible as showing the intent of the parties because the decree terms are not ambiguous or vague, and without that being the case, arguments of intent are normally barred. Solution? Probably file the enforcement again for the property, try the contempt on her, and try in the process to get her to agree to correct the old document. Feel free to email me directly through the firm website and we can discuss it more. I also have a couple of articles on these topics on our firm website. I think I may have a good CLE article at the office, but I will have to check on Monday.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much! I will pass this along and look at the articles on your website. Thank you! Jennifer

Posted

I agree with Mr. Harding. You will have to file a contact enforcement action, not a contempt action.

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