family law cases have different elements and circumstances that make them unique.
If you were recently divorced and have been denied
visitation opportunities with your child by your ex-spouse then you will likely be
interested in filing an enforcement case against him or her. An enforcement
case addresses specific violations of your
Divorce Decree and requests that the judge hold your ex-spouse accountable for those
While that process may sound relatively straightforward and simple there
is more to an
enforcement than what I discussed in the opening paragraph of this blog post. Let’s
spend some time today going through the steps of an enforcement case in
If at the end of our discussion you have questions on this subject or any
other in family law please do not hesitate to contact the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We will be more than happy to have one of our licensed family law attorneys
meet with you to answer those questions in a free of charge consultation.
Prepare, prepare, prepare (and then prepare some more)
If you have been repeatedly denied visitation periods with your child it
is not enough to hire an attorney, file an enforcement and drag your ex-spouse
to court. I should say that you can do that if you really want to, but
your chances of winning your case will be slim. There are some actions
you can take before ever hiring an attorney that can help you to succeed
in your case.
Document each and every denial of visitation in a journal with the time,
date and location. Having a witness available to accompany you to each
of those missed opportunities can be helpful as he or she can act as a
witness in court to testify to what he or she experienced.
You will need to:
- be present at the designated drop off/pick up at the spot
- at the correct time even if you know your ex-spouse and child will not be there.
Keep your notes handy as they will be used by your attorney to help build
Hire an attorney and file your enforcement
Once you have decided to file an enforcement case it is important to hire
an attorney who has experience not only in
family law but specifically in enforcement cases. An enforcement is different from
a divorce or a modification case.
You will want to ensure that your attorney has experience presenting evidence
to the judge, questioning witnesses as well as in drafting the paperwork
to file. Small mistakes and oversights can result in your not being successful
in your case.
Your attorney will draft your Motion to Enforce the Decree of Divorce and
will file it with the District Clerk in your county. As long as you provide
your attorney with the details he or she needs to properly draft the motion
you will only need to wait for your ex-spouse to be personally served
with the motion as well as an order from the judge to appear in court
at a specific date and time for a hearing on the matter.
Providing notice to your ex-spouse
One of the remedies (punishments) that you can seek from the court is to
have your spouse serve up to 180 days in jail for having violated the
court order. That’s not to say you have to ask for this remedy,
or that the judge would be likely to grant the request.
My point is that an enforcement is a serious matter that combines elements
of civil cases (family law) with criminal law aspects (jail time as punishment
for violating the law).
Your spouse will need to be personally served with
Notice of your lawsuit. This means that a constable or process server will need
to be hired to pick up the paperwork from the judge and serve it upon
him or her. Even if you know that your ex-spouse has an attorney on retainer,
technically serving the attorney is not proper in an enforcement case.
Personal service is necessary.
Continue to prepare, prepare, prepare
While you are waiting for your ex-spouse to be served your attorney should
meet with you to go over your case.
- What evidence do you have?
- What is the timeline of events?
I will typically use the enforcement petition as an outline for these meetings.
- receipts showing you were near the drop off/pick up location at the correct time
- journals and logs showing instances of denied visitation, etc.- will be
organized and prepared by your attorney to be offered into evidence.
Your attorney should prepare you for testimony. It’s possible that
you’ve never testified in court before. Getting some advice on how
to dress, act in court and ultimately speak before the judge can be really
helpful if you are feeling nervous or apprehensive.
Remember- ultimately your only responsibility in the hearing itself is
to answer questions that are asked of you. Your attorney presents the
case and the judge makes a ruling. You need to be honest, answer questions
to the best of your ability and remain silent otherwise.
Attending the Hearing and Receiving a Decision from the Judge
All of your preparation leads up to the hearing itself. Without belaboring
the point too much, your attorney will be presenting the remedies or relief
you are seeking from the court and offering evidence as to why that relief
should be granted.
If you are asking for additional time with your child as a result of having
been denied previous instances of visitation, why should the judge grant
you those additional days?
Your ex-spouse and their attorney will offer defenses to the violations
asserted in your Petition for Enforcement. He or she will present evidence
and be able to question you and your ex-spouse as well as any other witness
Finally, once all of the evidence is presented the judge is tasked with
making a decision. Typically the judge will make an oral rendition of
their orders meaning that he or she will read aloud their decision. If
you are successful your attorney will draft an order that reflects what
the judge said.
Both parties and your attorneys will sign the order before it is presented
to the judge for his or her signature. Once signed by the judge you and
your ex-spouse will need to follow your Divorce Decree in addition to
any additional orders set forth by the judge in the Enforcement hearing.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan- Advocates for Southeast Texas families
The attorneys and staff with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan take our responsibility to our clients seriously. From Chambers County
to Waller County and all points in between, we represent families just
like yours in various
family lawmatters. To speak with one of our attorneys about our experience and the services
we can provide you with, please do not hesitate to
contact us today.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
CLICK the button below to get your
“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
If you want to know more about how to prepare,
CLICK the button below to get your
“13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 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