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Enforcement of Orders and Contempt of Court

When people are not meeting the terms and conditions of a legal ruling, it’s possible to enforce orders to begin. In a divorce, there are clear orders for each spouse to follow. If they aren’t being followed, there can be strict penalties and severe consequences.

The Basics of Contempt & Enforcement of Court Orders in Texas

Enforcement actions involve filing court documents to hold someone responsible for violating a court order. After that first step is taken, the court can hear testimony and consider evidence surrounding the violation. When this is done, a variety of penalties can be imposed, including:

  • Holding someone in contempt of court
  • Ordering the payment of back child support or spousal maintenance
  • Granting a parent wrongly denied visitation, extra time with their children
  • Ordering one party to turn over other property that was awarded in the divorce

It’s important to note that it needs to be extremely specific for a Texas court to enforce a court order in the way it’s worded. The motion should document all instances where the court order was violated. When seeking enforcement of court orders, they must be written so that there are no technicalities that can be found. Specific and properly pleaded motions offer the best chance that the orders will be enforced.

How to Enforce Court Orders in Divorce

If you’re looking for enforcement of court orders in divorce, a motion for enforcement must be filed with the court. This includes any of the following situations:

  • The final order for conservatorship
  • Child support, child support orders, or child support arrearages
  • Possession or access to a child
  • Property Division
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Other court orders

When enforcement orders begin, the motion must clearly state what type of punishment is being requested, whether it’s a fine or jail time. Also, you must have enough evidence to present to the court to state your case.

Information Included in Divorce Decrees

Many facets of a divorce decree need to be upheld to avoid going to court to enforce orders. All divorces are different and will include other types of information.

If there are no children, you don’t have to worry about child support or visitation. When children are involved, divorce can become more complicated. There are also more instances when you may seek a court’s enforcement of orders.

A divorce decree can also include information about spousal maintenance and how marital property and personal property should be distributed.

Reasons for Enforcement Needs

The following are just several reasons why you may need to seek enforcement of court orders:

  • Failing to pay child support or child support arrearages
  • Failing to pay medical insurance
  • Failing to pay medical bills
  • Failing to pay spousal support
  • Removing the child without consent
  • Allowing a prohibited person access to a child

Your divorce decree may include other factors that would require contacting a lawyer to get orders enforced and seek legal advice.

Motion for Contempt

When someone is not complying with a court order, a motion for contempt can be filed.

There are several instances where someone may be held in contempt. If they are, they can face strict penalties depending on the offense.

Once the motion for contempt is filed with the court, a hearing date will be scheduled. During the hearing, which both spouses attend, the moving party has to show that the other spouse violated the court order. This can be done by presenting evidence and witnesses.

After the hearing, the judge will issue a ruling. It will likely lay out consequences that can be enforced if the court order continues to be violated.

Enforcing Child Support

If a parent misses a child support payment, fails to pay the child’s guardian for medical insurance if they’re responsible, or refuses to pay other expenses they are obligated to, they may be placed in contempt of court.

When contempt is requested, it must include the allegation of the order that was violated and each instance with the due amount. There is no statute of limitations if the enforcement suit is brought to collect back child support.

Enforcing Possession or Visitation

Some parents deny visitation to the other parent out of spite or try to get back at them. When this happens, and court-ordered visitation orders are being ignored, one parent can go to court to enforce court orders. Parents should not take matters into their own hands and decide to deny visitation. If they believe some terms are not being upheld, it’s essential to seek legal help.

Consequences of Being Found in Contempt

If court orders are not being upheld and one party is held in contempt, there can be severe consequences. These include:

  • Jail time
  • Hefty fines
  • Wage garnishment
  • Payment to the other party for their attorney fees if you haven’t paid your child support
  • Suspension of driver’s license or any professional license
  • Passport revoked
  • Tax refund seized until back child support payments are paid

If it’s a first offense, a judge may issue a warning. The judge can also order the non-compliant spouse to be the subject of a new parenting plan. Each case is different and can render a variety of outcomes.

Before Going to Court

Going to court can be emotionally and financially draining. Before the enforcement of court orders is put in place or a hearing is held, both parties can try to work through their differences independently through mediation.

One way to avoid another court proceeding is to look for a mediator. This is a non-judgmental third party that will listen to both sides. The mediator will present both sides and see if an agreement can be reached.

Contact Us for Enforcement of Orders

If court orders are not being followed by your former spouse or a noncompliant party and you are looking for help in getting relief, contact the Jimenez Law Firm about the failure to comply. Our experienced staff will listen to your issues and guide you on the best course of legal actions. Call us toll-free at 800-219-3779 to make an appointment at one of our three locations or reach out to us online. When it comes to enforcement of orders, let the Jimenez Law Firm help you find the justice you deserve.