Once you have hired an attorney to represent you in an enforcement case there are some steps that you should work with your attorney to complete prior to actually filing the paperwork with the clerk of your court. I realize that if you are owed child support you may not want to wait another minute to have the judge address the violations of the Divorce Decree by your ex-spouse.
However, if you and your attorney understand the history and background of your case you will be in a better position to successfully manage your case and achieve your goals in a hearing.
The reason for doing this is simple. It is unlikely that you remember every aspect of your divorce case even if it occurred just a few years prior. Legal matters all sort of blend together and if you were represented in your divorce by an attorney it’s possible that he or she provided you with information and updates that were more general more than specific.
In this case, you will not be able to provide the sort of history to your current attorney that is necessary for him or her to make a full assessment of what has occurred in the past.
Understand your Divorce Decree Backwards and Forwards
In your initial consultation and any supplemental meeting with your family law attorney, it is good practice to bring your Final Decree of Divorce for him or her to review. The reason for this is that your attorney should be able to review the portion of the Order that you are attempting to enforce and determine whether or not it is even enforceable.
The order should be straightforward, clear and offer specific instructions to both you and your ex-spouse on your various responsibilities under the Order. If anything is so non-specific, vague or unclear as to not allow your ex-spouse to understand their responsibilities then a judge may not side with you in your enforcement case.
It is not clear how your ex-spouse was to pay the child support to you there will likely be difficulty in convincing your judge to hold him or her accountable for failure to pay timely and full child support payments.
Let’s discuss this topic a little more in terms of what is enforcement in a family law order and what is not. There are multiple ways that an order could be read as unenforceable, but for our purposes, I’d like to focus on the one that you would be most likely to see in your enforcement case.
Understanding these limitations can provide you with information that could influence your decision as to whether or not to file an enforcement in the first place if you are seeking jail time as a punishment for your ex-spouse’s violations.
Not enforceable: language in an order that is not clear
If the Order that you assert your spouse is in violation of does not specifically state what your ex-spouse is being ordered to do and how he or she is expected to do it then jail time is not possible as a punishment for having failed to do whatever you are asserting was not done.
For instance, if an Order could be read one of two ways the order is most likely not clear enough for a contempt finding in your enforcement case. You may be successful on some level but if a child support order could be read two different ways you may end up receiving payment based on whichever reading is more favorable to your ex-spouse.
Drafting the actual motion for Enforcement
Make no mistake that your attorney will be responsible for drafting any paperwork to be filed in court. With that said, you may not be in a position to hire an attorney at any given time and knowledge of how to do so may be incredibly relevant to you, then.
Otherwise, simply knowing what you and your attorney need to assert in your motion and later prove in court can be helpful in framing your case so that you understand the issues better.
In a straightforward and concise manner, your enforcement motion must state the specific portion or portions of your Final Decree of Divorce that your ex-spouse has violated. Most of the time this is done by literally copying and pasting portions of the Divorce Decree into the Motion for Enforcement.
Further, the violations must be detailed individually. How your spouse violated the provisions you are stating that he or she did must be laid out. If you have been journaling or logging the violations then all your diligence will pay off in this area.
If you are asking a court to address violations regarding missed child support payments then you will need to include the amount owed to you, the amount actually paid and the difference between those two numbers as well.
The last thing on this subject that I would like to mention is that careful drafting is necessary. If you fail to state issues in your motion that are important to your case you cannot raise them for the first time in the hearing. If we look back at the point I made earlier about an enforcement being a part civil, part criminal case, it is necessary that your ex-spouse know what he or she is facing in terms of allegations ahead of time. Raising those issues for the first time in a hearing is not allowed.
Questions about the early stages of an enforcement case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Preparing diligently for an enforcement proceeding is essential to your receiving the results you desire. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand this fact and emphasize proper preparation with our clients and staff.
To learn more about our office, the services we provide and to have your questions answered please contact us today. A licensed family law attorney is available to meet with you six days a week for a free of charge consultation.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 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 | Tomball, 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 Tomball, TX EnforcementLawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our enforcement lawyers in Tomball 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 Tomball, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.