Parties sometimes realize they have different understandings of a Texas divorce decree. The trial court may issue a clarifying order if the decree is ambiguous. In some cases, the decree may be facially unambiguous, but have a latent ambiguity when read in context of the surrounding circumstances. In a recent case, a husband challenged a clarification order.
The final divorce decree included a provision setting forth the amount of his bonuses the husband would pay to the wife. It further provided he would provide her a 1099 tax statement for each payment if allowed by his employer. If he could not provide the 1099, “then the payments made to [the wife would] be the amounts above net of taxes paid in [his] tax bracket.”
The wife later petitioned for enforcement, arguing the husband was not dividing the bonuses “net of taxes paid in [his] bracket,” but was instead dividing them after the tax withholding by his employer. She requested a clarifying order if the court found the decree was not specific enough to enforce by contempt.