Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code sets forth the circumstances under which a court in a Texas divorce case may order spousal maintenance. Pursuant to section 8.051, the court may order maintenance if the spouse requesting it lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her minimum needs and meets one of the other enumerated conditions, related to family violence, disability, marriage lasting at least 10 years, or a disabled child. If a party disagrees with a maintenance obligation, it is best to challenge it immediately. A Texas appeals court recently considered whether a trial court appropriately terminated a maintenance obligation the husband challenged in response to the wife’s enforcement petition rather than through a direct appeal.
According to the appeals court opinion, the couple divorced in 2014 and stipulated in an agreed divorce decree that the wife was eligible for maintenance under chapter 8 of the Family Code. The trial court ordered the husband to pay spousal maintenance until either party’s death, the wife’s remarriage, or further orders of the court. The husband was to provide his payroll statement to the wife on request.
Nearly three years later, the wife petitioned for enforcement of the maintenance. She argued the husband had refused to provide his payroll statement. She asked the court to enter a clarifying order if it found any part of the decree to be insufficiently specific to be enforced.