As part of the legal divorce process in Texas, the court’s job is to ensure that the economic playing field is leveled between you and your former spouse. That way, both of you have a fair chance at post-divorce success.
One way the court looks out for each party is by issuing a court order for one ex-spouse to pay spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is meant to help the lower-earning spouse meet their reasonable needs and maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage.
In some cases, though, the higher earner will try to avoid paying their fair share by quitting their job. If you believe your husband quit his job to avoid alimony, there are steps you can take to make sure you still receive the support you need.
Texas Law on Voluntarily Leaving Employment to Avoid Spousal Maintenance
In Texas, courts presume that an ex-spouse who voluntarily leaves their job without good cause did so for the purpose of avoiding their spousal maintenance obligations.
This presumption can be overcome if the ex-spouse shows a good reason for leaving the job. For example, if your former spouse were let go from his job due to company downsizing, this situation would not be considered voluntarily leaving employment.
Similarly, if your ex-spouse develops a medical condition that makes it difficult to continue working at his job, this may also be considered a valid reason for leaving.
But, what if you suspect that your former spouse voluntarily ended his employment? Let’s review your legal options.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Your Ex Husband Quit Job to Avoid Alimony
If your ex recently quit his job and you are suspicious of his motives, pay attention to his payment patterns.
For example, if he starts making late or incomplete payments or stops paying altogether, this is a red flag that he may be trying to avoid his obligations. However, if he continues paying despite being out of work, then consider giving him time to adjust to his new situation.
If you have reason to believe that your ex-husband quit his job to avoid paying alimony (known as spousal maintenance in Texas), you may want to consider filing a motion with the court. In this motion, you should provide evidence of your ex-husband’s poor payment patterns.
The goal of this motion is to request that the court enforces the order by requiring your ex-husband to pay the overdue amount. The court may hold your ex-husband in contempt of court, in which fines accumulate for non-payment. If he can’t make the payments, the court may confiscate his property to cover the debt in what is known as a writ of execution.
The Role of Imputed Income in Spousal Maintenance
Sometimes, a judge may order spousal maintenance even if the paying ex-spouse doesn’t currently have a job. Known as imputing income or “imputation of income,” these types of court orders often occur in cases where an ex-spouse has voluntarily left their job or is intentionally underemployed to minimize their alimony obligation.
The judge will review the following factors to determine your ex-spouse’s earning capacity:
- Employment history
- Proven skills
- Post-education training
The judge will use this information to calculate a reasonable amount of maintenance that the ex-spouse should be paying.
For example, if your ex-husband had a job as a doctor and voluntarily left his job to work at a fast-food restaurant, the court may still order him to pay spousal support or maintenance based on his earning capacity as a doctor. This decision is based on the idea that the court presumes he is capable of earning a high income and his current employment situation is not reflective of his true earning potential.
Get Help from a Texas Family Law Attorney
Determining whether your ex-husband quit his job to avoid alimony can be complicated. However, an experienced family law attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case.
I can help you file the necessary motions with the court, represent you at hearings, and serve as a fierce advocate on your behalf – all while providing sound legal advice along the way.
When you turn to my law office, I will help you enforce the original terms of the divorce agreement and ensure that you continue receiving the spousal maintenance payments you are entitled to.
I currently help spouses in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. If you live in one of these counties, contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to schedule a consultation. I look forward to helping you resolve your spousal maintenance matter.