In general, courts are wary about modifying orders that designate the parent
with the exclusive duty to determine the
primary residence of a child. This is the case in large part because courts do not want
to shake up the stability and consistency in a child’s life by flip-flopping
where he or she resides primarily.
In situations where you file a
modification suit within one year of a prior case where the parent with the exclusive
right to determine the primary residence of your child has been established,
you will need to jump through an additional set up hoops in order to win
First and foremost you will need to show a court that your child’s
present environment is a potential danger to your child’s physical
health or emotional development. Abuse and neglect at their other parent’s
home immediately comes to mind here. If he or she is doing drugs in the
home, selling drugs in the home or engaged in violent behavior those are
extreme examples that could satisfy this first requirement.
Secondly, if the other parent has the exclusive right to determine the
primary residence of your child consents to your filing a modification
on this subject then your case will be allowed to proceed. This does not
occur with any great frequency and you should not expect to have your
counterpart willingly agree to the modification. The best interests of
your child will also be looked at even if the other parent agrees to the
modification you are requesting.
Finally, if the other parent has voluntarily relinquished control and
possession of your child for at least six months then the modification you are seeking
may be granted. This means that he or she could have willingly given up
possession and care of your child to you or any other adult for a six
In the event that a judge does not find that one of these three circumstances
are present in your situation then your modification suit will not be
allowed to proceed.
Modifying a child support order
One of the more frequent consultations that I am involved in with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan involves a parent who is interested in modifying a
child support order. This could mean that the parent is interested in either increasing
the obligation of the other parent or decreasing their own responsibility
to pay child support.
Just as with any other type of modification case, certain circumstances
must be proven to be in place in order to modify a prior order on child
support. The material and substantial change in circumstances in either
the child or any party to the enforcement suit must be shown. Secondly,
there must have been at least a three-year gap between the time in which
the prior order was rendered and the current modification suit.
Filing an enforcement case in Family Law Court
There is nothing more frustrating than going through an entire case- whether it be a
SAPCR or divorce case- only to have the other party fail to follow through on
their end of the bargain. Whether he or she is not paying child support
correctly or has repeatedly failed to make your child available for visitation
with you there are remedies for their failure to abide by a family court order.
Enforcement cases in Texas involve elements of civil and criminal law as
well as fairly complex procedural issues as well. The failure of the other
party to your court order to obey the order itself is known as
contempt of court. Fines and jail time are possible remedies for this failure to
adhere to the court orders. Criminal contempt findings involve jail time
for up to 180 days and/or a fine not to exceed $500 per violation of the
Look to the language of the original order to determine the specifics of
how the other party was supposed to do something. The language in that
order must be clear and concise- meaning that there must not be any question
as to how an act was supposed to be performed. If the order is subject
to multiple interpretations then there may be an issue in attempting to
enforce the order later on.
An enforcement motion must be filed with the court in order to enforce
an order in regard to
child support, possession and/or access. Issues that do not involve children including
spousal support or the payment of a debt may also be dealt with by filing an enforcement suit.
Requirements of the motion for enforcement
In the enforcement motion, you or your attorney must specify the type of
punishment (civil, criminal or both) that is being sought. Be aware that
you should not ask for more than 180 days as a jail sentence in an enforcement case.
The reason being is that if you do ask for more than 180 days the other
party can request a jury trial and also seek to have an attorney appointed
to represent him or her if he or she cannot afford one.
In regard to
enforcement cases for child support, the amount of child support that is owed must be specified as well as
the amounts actually paid (If any) and the amount that is still outstanding
must be stated as well. It is a good practice to note the portion(s) of
the order that has been violated with the specific dates the violations
have occurred as well as the amounts due/amounts paid.
Please be aware that an enforcement for child support purposes must be
filed no later than six months after the date the child becomes an adult
or the child support order ends, per the order. One thing to be especially
aware of is that if you are seeking to collect child support arrearages
under an order there is no deadline to file by and you can do so indefinitely.
Property Division Enforcement
Any property sought to be divided in a divorce must actually have been
in existence at the time the divorce was finalized.
Thereafter, any modification suit must have been filed within two years
of the final decree having been signed off on by the judge in your case.
Notification of the opposing party to your enforcement suit
Unlike other sorts of family law cases your enforcement petition must be
personally served on the opposing party. There must also be an order for
him or her to appear for a hearing that comes with the petition.
Your opposing party is entitled to having ten days to prepare for this
hearing. If you serve him or her within ten days of the hearing he or
she will still need to appear at the hearing to be “sworn”
to reappear at a future date and time by the judge or his/her clerk of
Child Support and other defenses to be outlined in tomorrow’s blog post
Come on back tomorrow to read through some
defenses to child support enforcement cases and other enforcement suits. If you have questions about
anything you’ve read through today or anything posted over the past
few days please do not hesitate to
Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
One of our licensed
family law attorneys will be happy to meet with you in a free of charge consultation in order
to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you for your time and
we hope to have you back tomorrow to learn more about
Texas family law cases.
For any other type of enforcement case you must identify the provision
in the order that has been violated, state how the other party has not
complied, request specific relief and then contain your attorney’s
signature at the conclusion of the document.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
CLICK the button below to get your
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Family Law Enforcement Hearings: Agreements to Settle and Trial
- Reviewing your case history is crucial to success in an enforcement case
- Texas Family Law Court: Enforcement Actions
- How much will your child support enforcement case cost?
- The Steps of an Enforcement Case in Texas family law court
- Preparing for an Enforcement case in Texas
- Defending against an Enforcement Action in Texas
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Five
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Four
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Three
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Two
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law: An Overview
- Child Support Enforcement Defense - Act Sooner Rather than Later
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Enforcement Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
order enforcement, it's important to speak with one of our
Houston, TX EnforcementLawyers right away to protect your rights.
enforcement lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
enforcement cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein,
Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
Fort Bend County and