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RayAnswers, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 42235
Experience:  30 years as a family law lawyer .
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I’m resident living in Houston, Texas. I have a family

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I’m resident living in Houston, Texas. I have a family lawsuit case: Guardians of my ex-wife suit me for re-divide property. Both me and my ex-wife are retired, rely on social security benefit, I have a pension plan provided by my former employer. My ex-wife has her own social security benefit. My question is: If I lost this lawsuit, what nature of this debt should be? Let’s say, if it is just a simple debt, she may not be able to touch my social security benefit? Or if this debt define as alimony, then she may touch my social security based on Texas law? So the same to my pension plan. Your answer and help is very appreciated.
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Texas
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Yes, case has been filed.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Above mentioned is my major concern. Thank you so much.

Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today.Please bear with me a few moments while I review your question and respond.

They could seek a redivision of your pension here , the court if they redivide it would do a new QDRO, qualified domestic relations order to split the pension and pension plan would do so.

If they order maintenance/spousal support they cannot garnish social security but if you fail to pay you would be in contempt.In looking at maintenance here they look at your income and hers.

Here in Texas in order to be eligible, the spouse seeking maintenance must lack sufficient property once the divorce is final (including separate property) to provide for her minimum reasonable needs.

Additionally one of the following two scenarios must apply:

1. The paying spouse must have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence as defined by Texas law. Additionally, the act of family violence must have been committed either:

a.) During the marriage (but no more than two years before the date the divorce suit was filed); or
b.) While the divorce suit was pending.


2. The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs and:

a.) Her inability is due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
b.) Her inability is due to her responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability; or
c.) She has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or more.

Once eligibility is established, the divorce court is charged with looking at a variety of factors to determine whether an actual award of spousal maintenance (including how much and how long) is appropriate.

These factors include educational background, duration of the marriage, age of the requesting spouse, employment history, infidelity, contributions to the family as a homemaker, efforts to find employment, etc.

After careful consideration of the relevant factors, the court has the power to rule that the requesting spouse receives no support, the maximum support allowed, or something in between.

Limits here

1. Up to 5 years of post-divorce support. This the applicable cap if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the requesting spouse can show eligibility under scenario #1 above or the marriage lasted at least 10 years but less than 20 years.

2. Up to 7 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted at least 20 years but less than 30 years.

3. Up to 10 years of post-divorce support. This is the maximum duration allowed if the marriage lasted 30 years or more.

4. For scenarios #2(a) and #2(b) above, the support award can last indefinitely so long as the underlying eligibility criteria continue to exist.

Here in a Texas District court awarding post-divorce spousal maintenance may only order monthly payments up to the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income.

I appreciate the chance to help you tonight.Thanks again.

Let me know if you have more follow up.

If you can rate 5 stars it is much appreciated.

They cannot garnish social security here for maintenance, they can redivide the pension and order you to pay maintenance.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Dear Mr. Ray: Your answer to my question is very valuable. I really appreciated and would give you 5 star response. But my question could be more specific: If my ex win the case to re-divide property and I cannot afford, can she garnish my social security benefit or my pension plan? Can judge turn this to be spousal maintenance then enforce me to pay x% from my retirement benefit?

They cannot garnish --social security won't do their dirty work so to spek, but judge can order you to pay certain amount and that then is enforceable by contempt back in same court.

He could order you to pay but not through garnishment.They could order you to pay or divide up a pension with court order called a QDRO.

Thanks for the follow up and rating if you can do so.

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