It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You may have allowed your child to go to the other parent’s house as part of the visitation agreement. Unfortunately, the parent refused to return the child to you. Fortunately, if you have court orders, you can ask the court to help you with the enforcement of a Texas child custody court order.
Here are the enforcement options available to you under Texas law if you have court-ordered possession.
Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus
When you as the custodial parent initiate a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, you are asking the judge to order the child’s return given that you have superior possession to the child. This will require the other parent to appear in court with your child while the judge determines who has the superior right to possession.
Note that the Writ of Habeas Corpus will not make a modification to any existing visitation order or custody order. It will also not punish the other parent for the time denied to you if your child was returned to you by the date of the court hearing.
Having a family law attorney file a Writ of Habeas Corpus will simply help to ensure your child is returned to you if one parent is violating your legal rights.
Writ of Attachment
The Writ of Attachment orders your ex-spouse to surrender the child to a sheriff so that they can be returned to you. Your family law attorney can file for this at the same time that they initiate the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Here are the conditions for the judge to order the child’s return to you:
- You did not give up possession of your child during the period of six months before you filed the Petition
- You have a court order that shows you have the superior right to possession
- There is no concern about the child’s welfare under your care and custody
- A parent or non-parent is illegally withholding the child from you.
Contempt of Court
Another method of child custody and visitation enforcement that the Texas courts can use is to hold the other parent in contempt of court. Your attorney can initiate the legal process with a Motion to Enforce.
If you want the Texas courts to start contempt proceedings, your child custody order must be enforceable. This means the order has to be specific about the locations of exchange, visitation dates, times and any detailed schedule, and any activities that are not allowed while a parent has custody of the children. It should also clearly state the names of the parents and children involved. This will allow the courts can enforce the order.
Make sure you prepare all the evidence required to support your case. It should record your attempts to contact the other party and seek the return of your children. In some cases, the person involuntarily does not comply with the order, possibly if their attempts to do were hindered by the other person. It is within the court’s rights to not hold them in contempt.
A parent may be liable for criminal and civil penalties for the violation. This usually happens if they knowingly refused to follow visitation orders. Consequences for parents can include jail time or monetary damages according to state law for missed parenting time.
What If I Don’t Have Court Orders?
Unfortunately, you cannot initiate the Writ of Habeas Corpus against another parent. You can only initiate it against another person who is not a parent.
Enforcement of Child Custody Orders
The family law attorneys at Sabelhaus + Lynch have decades of experience with family law issues. We can support you with the enforcement of Texas child custody court orders against violations. Contact us for a no-cost legal case review.