Is your ex-spouse violating the terms of your court order decree? If so, you can order the court to enforce your rights. Denial of financial support after a divorce can be devastating, especially for the custodial parent. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get the money, property, and custody time you’ve been assured.
As you could imagine, Texas Family Court does not take lightly people who disobey their decree. Failing to adhere to a court order can result in criminal penalties, including jail time. Still, court orders aren’t always easy to enforce. When your rights are being dismissed, you must motion to enforce them.
Even if your motion for enforcement seems straightforward, it can be fraught with legal complexities. This is why it’s crucial to hire an experienced Fort Worth family law attorney. Whether you’re a custodial parent not receiving maintenance payments, or a noncustodial parent being denied child visitation rights, we can help.
Steps of an enforcement case in Texas court
From start to finish, the motion for enforcement process takes around a month. Here’s how we can work together, client and attorney, to enforce your Texas court order and hold your ex accountable.
- Hire a family lawyer to file your enforcement motion
As mentioned earlier, holding another party accountable for violating a family court order isn’t always a slam dunk. Even when the violation is clear, it’s essential to hire an attorney with experience in enforcement cases. Even the smallest mistakes and paperwork issues may derail your motion to enforce. As a custodial parent, do you really want to take that chance?
With our affordable attorney’s fees, you don’t need to worry about enduring your enforcement case alone. Our award-winning family law firm will review your case and recommend the best course of action. In many cases, the best next step will be filing a Motion for Contempt. If we find that your order cannot be enforced, we’ll recommend other corrective action.
- Document every court order violation
Before you motion for enforcement, it helps to have detailed notes of the specific transgressions your ex committed. Keep a log of every court order violation, including each time the person has:
* Denied your visitation or possession rights as a parent
* Violated your child custody schedule
* Failed to remit payment of court-ordered spousal support (and the amount)
* Failed to remit payment of court-ordered child support (and the amount)
* Other court order violations
Remember to jot down every date and time. Also, write down the names of witnesses. Being able to include these records as evidence will help strengthen your motion for enforcement case. Additionally, it will help ensure that your ex is held accountable for every enforceable count of contempt.
- File a motion of contempt, also known as a motion of enforcement
If taking legal action is the best move, we will file a Motion for Contempt with the court clerk. In state court, this is a common practice for enforcing a court order. Contempt of court may be filed for many reasons, but in most cases, it’s for one of the following:
* Failure to pay spousal or child support to a custodial parent
* Being denied visitation or possession rights
Each court order violation may result in a “count” of contempt. If the Texas judge agrees that your ex-spouse is disobeying your court order, they can be held in contempt of court. This will mean the spouse is required to provide back pay for all scheduled payments they missed. You can also seek additional civil or criminal punishments, including up to 180 days of jail time.
- Provide notice of contempt
After we file the motion for enforcement in court, the person will be notified of the charges they face by a process server or a constable.
After the notification is delivered, 21 days must pass before a hearing can be set. This gives the other party enough time to review each specific count of contempt and to plan their defense. Even if your ex refuses the notice you have options.
When the trial is scheduled, the defendant is served a Notice of Hearing. Once this happens, it sets the stage for the motion of enforcement hearing to begin.
- Continue to prepare for our enforcement hearing
Now that your ex-spouse is aware of the specific counts of contempt, we have three weeks or longer to build our case. If your hearing is related to child custody issues we have a good guide for you to read.
This is where your notes from Step 1 will really come in handy. If it helps our case, we may request your witnesses to appear in court to testify on your behalf. Having this outside perspective can be extremely valuable.
As your family law attorney, we will also prepare you to testify. Delivering testimony can be a stressful experience, especially for first-timers. We’ll coach you on what to expect, what to wear, and what to say. In short, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
Our experienced Tarrant County family law attorneys have assisted clients through many enforcement cases over the years. We know what it takes to maximize your chances of success.
- Appear in court for your enforcement hearing
While any trial is nerve-inducing, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. You designated lawyers for a reason. We will shield you from the most complex aspects of the trial and only engage you when needed.
During the hearing, we will present our findings, as well as the relief and remedies we seek from the other party. The only time you may need to speak is when you’re testifying. Your job then will simply be to answer questions truthfully. And remember, we will rehearse with you so that you’re well prepared.
Once all the evidence has been presented, and the defendant is given an opportunity to dispute, the judge will make their decision. If the judge rules in your favor, our Fort Worth family law attorneys will draft an order that both parties and the judge must sign.
- Judge’s Ruling
After all the evidence has been submitted, their ruling. This ruling will be based on whether there was a clear violation of the court order. Other factors may also be considered, including whether the violation was intentional and part of an extended pattern.
If the judge does not rule in our favor, or if the judge rules the order is not enforceable, it’s not final. We can always appeal the decision or explore other legal alternatives. If you have any specific questions, address them to your attorney, who can explain the reasoning, implications, and potential next steps.
Enforce Your Texas Court Order With Our Fort Worth Family Law Firm
At Sabelhaus + Lynch, our seasoned lawyers take pride in fighting for families in court. We offer transparent, affordable pricing as well as a no-cost initial consultation. We always fight to make sure your best interests are served, and your rights are enforced.
Don’t let your ex-spouse get away with violating your court order decree. Contact our office or call 817-668-5879 to begin your motion for enforcement. We have an excellent track record when it comes to court orders in Texas. You’ll be happy with your choice to consult with our award-winning Tarrant County family law practice.