Dallas Appeals Court Refuses to Enforce Contract Support Payments

Texas family courts are entitled to make various financial awards to one party or another as part of a divorce judgment or settlement. The most common payments ordered by a family court are for child support and are designed to allow the custodial parent to support the children. Alimony can also be ordered, which is done in order to allow the lower-earning spouse to maintain a similar standard of living as to that which they were accustomed to during the marriage.

Texas family courts also are responsible for dividing marital property, which includes real estate, personal property, as well as financial assets. In addition to these payment orders, family courts are entitled to enforce any other financial agreements or contracts that are made between divorcing parties as part of a settlement agreement. A Dallas appellate court recently denied a woman’s request to enforce a contract made between her and her ex-husband as part of their divorce settlement.

The parties from the recently published opinion were married in 2005 and divorced in 2015. As part of their divorce settlement agreement, the ex-husband agreed to pay approximately $10,000 per month to the wife in order to support “an alternative lifestyle” for her and the children. As part of this agreement, the wife would use the money to fund travel and living abroad for her and the children, as a means for personal development.

According to the facts discussed in the opinion, the mother and children used the money for several years to support the lifestyle discussed in the settlement agreement. In the summer of 2018, however, the mother chose to move in with her own mother to care for her health, and stopped traveling with the children. Because the mother and kids stopped traveling as agreed in the settlement, the father stopped paying the monthly allowance. The mother attempted to enforce the contract, but the trial court and appellate court refused her request. The courts ruled that the travel lifestyle was a “condition precedent” to the father’s payments, and since the traveling stopped, the mother was no longer entitled to enforce the contract. This case illustrates that, although judges apply divorce law when hearing a divorce case, they often rely on principles of contract law when doing so.

Working Out a Complex Divorce Settlement

Long marriages can lead to complicated divorce, especially when high-value assets or children are involved. It is usually best for all the parties and children when a divorce case settles without a trial. If you are seeking the most beneficial settlement in your case, an experienced legal team can help you out. The qualified Texas family law lawyers at Guest and Gray are skilled negotiators who understand how to resolve even the toughest cases, and we can help you get what you deserve. Our attorneys represent clients in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin and Kaufman counties, helping them deal with a variety of family law issues, including divorce cases. Contact our offices at 972-564-4644 and schedule a free consultation today.

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