Dormancy of Texas Divorce Judgment Calculated From Date Payment Obligation Is Triggered

iStock-1187184203-300x200TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 34.001(a) provides that a judgment becomes dormant if a writ of execution is not issued within 10 years of its rendition.  A judgment is dormant, execution may not be issued unless it is revived.  A dormant judgment may be revived within two years of becoming dormant.  TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 31.006.  A former wife recently argued that her ex-husband could not enforce a payment obligation contained in their divorce decree because the judgment had become dormant.

2008 Divorce – $30,000 Judgment Awarded to Husband

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties divorced in 2008.  The decree awarded the husband $30,000, with interest beginning 12 months after the judgment, secured by a lien on the home where the wife lived.  The unpaid principle and accrued interest were to be paid upon the earliest of: the sale of the home, the youngest child’s emancipation, the wife’s remarriage or cohabitation with a romantic partner, the wife’s death, or the home ceasing to be the primary residence of the children.

The husband filed an application for turnover and appointment of a receiver in 2021.  His counsel stated that the earliest of the listed events happened in May 2014, when the youngest child turned 18 and graduated high school.  The wife argued that the judgment had become dormant.  The trial court signed a turnover order and appointed a receiver to possess and liquidate the wife’s non-exempt property to satisfy the judgment.  She appealed.

On Appeal, Wife Argues Judgment was Dormant

The wife argued that, pursuant to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 34.001(a), the judgment became dormant after 10 years from the judgment.  She further argued that the husband had only two years to revive the judgment and had failed to do so.

The husband argued, however, that the dormancy statute did not begin to run on the date of the judgment because payment was predicated on future events.  The deadline did not begin to run until the payment became due.

Appeals Court Finds Judgment Not Dormant Based on Condition Precedent

The appeals court concluded that the occurrence of one of the events listed in the decree was a condition precedent to the wife’s payment obligation.  The husband could not enforce the obligation or obtain a writ of execution until one of the events occurred.  The wife had not disputed that the first listed event occurred in May 2014, so the husband’s right to enforce the payment obligation was not triggered until that time.  The part of the judgment ordering the wife to pay $30,000 cannot become dormant until May 2024.

The appeals court rejected the wife’s argument that a divorce agreement had been incorporated into the judgment and the parties could determine the conditions precedent to payment.  The appeals court noted that the decree did not indicate it had incorporated an agreement, but concluded that the result would be the same regardless of whether the parties had agreed to the conditions.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order.

Nuanced Rules Apply to Collection of Divorce Judgments – Call McClure Law Group Today

There is a time limit on enforcing judgments, but it may not always be obvious when that time limit begins to run. If your former spouse has failed to make a payment required by the divorce decree, a knowledgeable Texas divorce attorney can advise you on your enforcement rights.  Contact McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 right away to set up a consultation.

Contact Information