My ex-husband is a successful business man. We divorced three years ago and he moved to New York immediately. Four months ago, he stopped making alimony payments. What can I do here in Houston to help this?

You definitely need to seek legal counsel from a trusted Houston divorce law firm.  Texas courts most often limit alimony payment to three years.  It would be a good starting point to review your divorce decree to see what time limits there may be on alimony payments (“spousal maintenance”) that your husband is required to make to you.

In the state of Texas, time limits of spousal maintenance are set out in the Family Code, unless the parties agree to a different time frame. The Family Code in the state of Texas says the support order is not effective after three (3) years, with the date the divorce decree was signed as the starting time. Of course, it is possible that wording in your own particular divorce degree may supersede this.

The courts of Texas generally limit the spousal support to the shortest possible time for the spouse to begin employment which will provide for his/her “minimal reasonable needs”. Only a disability can continue the time frame indefinitely, and once the disability has been removed, then a motion to modify will likely occur from the ex-spouse.

Texas law has limited the amount of spousal maintenance: the support cannot exceed $2,500.00 per month or 20% of the ex-spouse’s average monthly gross income. The amount set will be only enough to provide the spouse with their minimal reasonable needs. However, parties can agree to a larger sum.  Again, the details regarding your entitlements to alimony can be found in your divorce degree.

Your ability to collect depends entirely upon the wording of your divorce degree.  If your ex-husband, for example, has agreed to pay spousal maintenance (alimony) for 10 or 20 years and it is stated thusly in your divorce degree, then you may be entitled to recovery of these funds.  Otherwise, it is highly unlikely.

As mentioned previously, it would be prudent to seek the advice of a Houston divorce lawyer – a competent, experienced lawyer can quickly review your divorce degree and provide you with the answers and options you seek.  Furthermore, you will most likely need the services of a lawyer to recover your alimony payments if it is found these payments are rightfully due you.  Before beginning, it is good to know that extracting alimony payments from your ex-husband may be difficult as states usually offer a lot of assistance in collecting child support, and significantly less help collecting past-due alimony.  Reach Lacy Lafour and her team at LaFour Law today and let us help you fight for what’s yours.

I divorced my husband two year ago, and we have shared custody of our two kids. I want to move to Tennessee. Can I take the kids with me?

The short answer is “No.”  If you and your husband share joint custody of the children, you cannot just pick up your kids and leave, even if you are the custodial parent. If your ex-husband does not want you to leave the state, it is advised that you seek legal counsel with a Houston child custody lawyer as your case is not a simple one.

In most cases, initial custody orders prohibit the primary parent from moving outside of a specific area (usually the child’s current county of residence plus any contiguous counties). Therefore, when parents want to move out of state with their children, they need to get a court order allowing them to do so; they can’t just pick up and leave.

Even if you have an older order (or agreement) that doesn’t restrict your child’s residence to a particular area, you still need to give your ex-husband notice if you intend to move with the children. If your ex-husband wants to stop you from moving, he may file an application for a temporary restraining order which prevents you from moving until a court can hold a relocation hearing.

At the hearing, you’ll have to show compelling reasons for the proposed move, which may include a job relocation (if you can’t find comparable work locally), or a relocation to be closer to family, who will help support and care for the child. If the court suspects that you’re moving to interfere with the child’s relationship with your ex-husband, you will not be allowed to go.

Courts in Texas typically award divorcing parents “joint managing conservatorship” (referred to as “joint legal custody” in some states) over their child. This means the parents will share the right to make important decisions about their child’s life, including where the child will live.  In cases involving domestic violence or abuse the court may award physical and legal custody to one parent alone (sole conservator.

Note:  If your child does move to a state other than where their custody case was decided, it is possible that the state with jurisdiction over your child custody case may also change. For example, if the children move away, yet maintain a strong connection to the original home state of the custody case, (by frequently visiting their non-custodial parent in that state), that state retains jurisdiction.  If both parents move to states other than the original home state of the custody case, the new state of residence of the children becomes the one with jurisdiction over the case.

Once again, child custody questions in Texas can be complex and far reaching. You need the expertise of the team at LaFour Law to navigate these waters.  Reach them today at www.lafourlaw.com or 713.223.7700 to schedule a private consultation.