Texas Family Law Court: Enforcement Actions

If you’re facing repeated violations of a prior court order by your ex-spouse or the other parent of your child, you might wonder how to address the situation. While it may be tempting to do nothing, taking no action against these violations will yield no results. You cannot simply rely on law enforcement to have a talk with your ex-husband or wife about obeying the judge’s orders. In such cases, you may need to consider enforcement actions, such as an enforcement hearing, to address the violations and seek appropriate remedies.

Quite honestly, it’s my experience that the “do nothing” approach is what people choose to do with the most significant amount of frequency. If you are in a position like this, I can’t blame you for taking this position. Enforcing a court’s order poses challenges and demands both time and energy. It entails financial expenses to carry out a court’s ruling. Sure, maybe you’re owed a little child support, and possibly your ex-spouse returns the kids on Sunday nights a little later than she’s supposed to. What’s the use of going to court?

Today’s blog post will delve into the utility of initiating an Enforcement action in a family law case. Moreover, if you’re skeptical about the effectiveness of enforcement in curbing your ex-spouse’s wrongful actions, I can personally attest that you are mistaken. Filing enforcement is not only likely to be beneficial, but it can also result in the imposition of significant and far-reaching penalties against the opposing party in your order. Now, let’s delve into the topic at hand.

Enforcement is what, exactly?

I avoided providing a specific definition of an enforcement action in my opening. So, here’s a legal definition for you: enforcement is the filing of a lawsuit against a person who has violated a court order. There is a relatively wide range of penalties that a judge can use against someone who has violated a court order. The most common that people have heard about is holding a party in contempt of court. This means that the person has gone against the order of a judge/court. Here, the law provides for remedies in the form of fines and possible jail time.

Other mechanisms used to enforce an order include paying back missed child support and providing additional time with a parent who was denied visitation due to the evil acts of the other parent. In Texas, a Family Court can enforce orders regarding child support, possession and access of a child, property division, and spousal maintenance.

The role of the Texas Attorney General in a Child Support Enforcement case

The Texas Attorney General becomes involved in the process for child support specifically. They are the state agency responsible for collecting, establishing, and enforcing child support orders on behalf of the State. You’ll notice that I didn’t say that the OAG represents individual parents. Sometimes potential clients will come into our office and say that they were under the impression that the OAG would help them get some back child support. While the result may be that just that, the OAG is out to represent our State and not you as an individual.

The Attorney General’s deep concern about the timely and complete payment of child support closely links to the frequent reliance of individuals who receive or pay child support on various forms of public assistance. For instance, if your child is covered by Medicaid, the OAG is committed to guaranteeing the collection of child support, partly to reimburse the State for covering your child’s health insurance expenses. The OAG can help adjust child support levels based on the guidelines outlined in the Texas Family Code and can file enforcement for child support owed just as you could on your own.

Getting to court – how do you get in front of a judge?

The goal in an enforcement case is to address the violations and remedy them. Then, seek additional orders to ensure that the violations do not occur in the future. Negotiation may be fruitless while settling these issues out of court is possible. In that event, you will need to have a judge address your petition in a hearing. If you request a contempt penalty be assessed against the other party, you will need to serve them personally. Ten days’ notice before a hearing is necessary for this situation.

As previously mentioned, resolving your enforcement case is achievable. Prior to the hearing, it’s standard for your attorney and the opposing party’s attorney to explore the potential for reaching a settlement. Should an agreement be reached, the parties will present it before the judge and have it documented. Subsequently, the attorneys will return to their offices to draft an order based on the agreement. However, in the event of no agreement, the parties will proceed before the judge for a formal enforcement action hearing on the matter.

An enforcement hearing and its possible results – the subject of tomorrow’s blog post

Come on back tomorrow to discuss what an enforcement hearing looks like and what can result from one. If, in the meantime, you have any questions regarding this subject, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. One of our licensed family law attorneys is available six days a week to meet with you in free of charge consultations. We can answer your questions and discuss our office’s services to clients we represent.

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