If you missed part one in the series of blog posts from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC on Enforcement suits in Texas family law then I suggest you scroll up to yesterday’s post and read over our introduction on this subject. I think you’ll learn a considerable amount.
Today’s post will continue discussing this subject and will get into the specifics of attempting to enforce a court’s order related to child support, visitation, spousal maintenance and a few other areas as well.
Child support enforcement essentials
If your ex-spouse is not paying his or her child support on time or isn’t paying at all then your enforcement suit would likely center around evidence showing these missed or failed payments. To begin, you will need to quote or reference the specific portion of the order that states how much is to be paid on a monthly basis.
The next section should give a specific statement as to how much (if any) child support has actually been paid and the amount still owed based on the two numbers being subtracted. The judge will not “do the math” for you. You must provide the specific numbers for the court to review and consider.
Enforcement essentials in any area besides child support
Child support is based largely on math- what should have been paid by a certain date minus what actually has been paid by that same date. Other areas of the court’s order can obviously be violated as well but require less in the way of arithmetic but an equal amount of attention to detail.
To satisfy the law in regard to non child support enforcement suits, you must:
- Specifically identify the provision from the court’s prior order that has been violated. Most of the time it is most sensible to “cut and paste” the section from the order and insert it into your enforcement suit. That way there is no question as to what section you are referring to in the enforcement.
- You will need to specify as to how the noncompliance with the order has occurred. If your ex spouse did not pick up your child on his weekends for two straight months this would need to specified in your motion.
- You need to be specific as to what sort of relief you want from the court. Whether it is additional time with your child to compensate you for missed opportunities to be with him or her, or jail time for failing to pay child support you must make it crystal clear to the opposing party and the court what relief is being asked for
- Your attorney must sign the enforcement suit prior to its being filed with the clerk and served upon the opposing party
Filing deadlines on enforcement suits
There are different deadlines to file different sorts of enforcement actions in Texas family courts. If you are attempting to enforce provisions related to child support then your lawsuit must be filed no later than six months after:
- The child becomes an adult
- The child support obligation ends under the order by operation of law. In most orders this means at the age of eighteen or the child’s graduation from an accredited secondary school (high school).
A key to understand, no matter if you are the parent who pays child support or receives child support, is that if the enforcement suit involves child support that is due but has not yet been received there is no deadline to file. This means that you can be long past the age where your child is a minor and still be on the hook for failing to pay child support.
We discussed yesterday the possibility of you serving time in jail for failing to pay child support but this is not the only penalty available under state law. Fines, an award of attorney’s fees to your opposing party as well as the loss of your driver’s license may result if a child support decision is made against you.
The court can go after your paychecks and also your tax refunds until the arrearage in child support is paid.
Property division in the context of an enforcement suit
If your enforcement lawsuit is based on your spouse failing to abide by the terms of your divorce decree’s orders related to property division then you have until two years after the divorce decree was signed in order to bring an enforcement suit.
If the property in question was not in existence at the time the order was signed but is now, the enforcement must be brought within two years of that property coming to fruition.
How is spousal maintenance covered in an enforcement suit in Texas?
State law provides no rules as far as when an enforcement for spousal maintenance is concerned.
This means that, like child support arrearages, you can bring or have a suit brought against you any time after the order is signed. I have seen personally a handful of spousal maintenance claims that need to be brought for clients who have been put in bad situations because of the failure of a person to pay spousal maintenance correctly or at all.
If your ex spouse decides out of the blue to just stop paying your spousal maintenance each month you can bring an enforcement suit no matter how long ago your final decree was signed.
Part three of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC’s series on Enforcement suits to be posted tomorrow
Enforcements are a serious matter and as a result we will need more time to discuss these issues. Please come on back tomorrow to read our third post this week on this subject.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC represents clients across Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. Please contact us today to set up a free of charge consultation to discuss your questions and to ask one of our licensed family law attorneys to tell you more about our office and the services we provide to clients.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 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?
- Child Support Modification in Texas (Part 1)
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
- Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
- How to get above guideline child support.
- When does your duty to pay child support end in Texas?
- Should a Divorced Parent Sign a Waiver (Release) and Indemnity Agreement to Allow a Child to Participate in Recreational Activities?