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Can my husband withhold his paycheck or refuse to pay bills when divorce is not filed yet?

Katy, TX |

We are still legally married. All the bills he refuses to pay are because he is "saving" to leave me and his two children. Since the vehicle we have is not in my name, he refuses to let me use it. When I do, he claims I stole it since it was my not in my name. When he gets paid he pulls all the money out. He blows all his money partying every weekend.

I have looked up the law and I cannot cut off or cancel any bills in my name, but he refuses to pay any of them (such as house, electric, water, cable, etc.). He just says he is saving his money, but we have two kids and have been married 14 years!

How is this legal and what can I do? We're still in the same house but this is basically abandonment. I need to know what my options are, because he is ruining my credit and I will be responsible once the divorce is final.

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Attorney answers 4


First of all, I am sorry you are going through this. I will speak in general terms, as I am not specifically familiar with Texas family law. It appears to me that you will need to seek assistance from the court. In order to have any order in place regarding the payment of bills, you will need to file a complaint for divorce. During the divorce you can request a pendente lite hearing to order temporary support and other temporary orders while the actual divorce is pending. Right now, your property is generally all marital property and therefore, you would not be driving a "stolen vehicle".

The best thing to do right now is to document everything that you can. This will be useful later when you need to recall specifics and can list all of the issues that have transpired. As I tell others that speak to me; your first concern is your safety and then the safety of your children. In that order because if you are not safe, then your children will not have you to depend upon.

Disclaimer: The preceding is for educational purposes only. There is not an attorney/client relationship established. The laws and regulations in jurisdictions outside of Tennessee may not be similar to other jurisdictions and the questioner is encouraged to seek competent legal counsel in their jurisdiction.


The other attorney spoke correctly in general terms. Let me apply the 'Texas lingo'

You will need to file a Petition for Divorce and request a Temporary Orders hearing. At that hearing you will present evidence of the bills he should be paying, his past history of paying those bills, and anything else you want the court to take into account. The court will issue Temporary Orders, which could place him under court order to pay those bills. If he fails to do so, he could be held in contempt or (rarely) thrown in jail.

Speak to a family law attorney in Houston/Katy and I'm sure they can help you start the process.


You need to file for divorce and in your petition for divorce, ask for temporary orders. In the temporary orders request, you will ask the court to make him pay the bills and enjoin him from interrupting insurance or utility service. The court will almost certainly enter those temporary orders and that will either make him shape up OR face the consequences of being found in contempt of court.


By the way, if you are still married, no divorce is pending, and no court orders are in place, you certainly can cancel bills in your name. You shouldn't cancel utilities in your name (water, gas, electricity) but you can cut off the cable bill, Internet, cell phones, credit cards, etc..

And you are NOT stealing the car when you drive it. Texas is a community property state. If he bought the car during the marriage and has paid for it with community funds (as his salary is), it's as much your car as it is his.

Finally: You must go get a job, if you don't already have one. You will definitely need the money soon.

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