Have you gone through a prior divorce or child custody case only to find out that your ex-spouse or co-parent is continually violating the final orders from that case? If so, then it can feel like you have nowhere to turn. During your case, there was some degree of accountability in place given that if your opposing party did something that was against the "rules" then you could bring that to the attention of a judge. Even without having to go to court, you would be able to at least have that exist as a possibility. The threat of going to the judge may have been enough to keep your opposing party on their best behavior.
However, now that your case is done and over with you may be looking at a much different set of circumstances. Rather than having an attorney by your side and a courtroom as a possibility to keep your opposing party accountable, you are now considering what you can do to stop your co-parent or ex-spouse from acting badly and violating this court order. It is not fair, after all, for you to continually do as your order mandates as far as your behavior is concerned. The trouble is that these violations are hurting you and possibly your child. This is not something that you can abide by, but the worry is that there are no places for you to turn for justice. What can be done to hold your co-parent or ex-spouse accountable for their actions?
I would invite you to spend some time with us today on our blog. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are going to walk with you through the subject of enforcement cases. Why would you want to file an enforcement case in the first place? What advantages in an enforcement case can be provided to you by an attorney? What does an enforcement case look like from beginning to end? Finally- what are the typical costs associated with hiring an experienced, junior associate attorney to represent you in an enforcement case? We will ask and answer these questions in today’s blog post.
If you have any questions about the material that we cover, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as to be able to find out how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of an enforcement case.
What is the purpose of filing an enforcement case?
This is likely where your information gathering should begin when it comes to an enforcement case. If you have no clue what an enforcement case is, then this is a great place to start from. Generally speaking, enforcement cases are ones where your court order is not being followed by the person who was formerly your opposing party. In a divorce, this would be your ex-spouse. In a child custody or divorce case, this could be your Co-parent. Regardless, you have a family court order from a prior court case that is now not being followed. In the world of family law enforcement cases, this is known as a violation.
The fine line that you need to determine whether it constitutes cause for enforcement is whether the violation is severe enough or has occurred repeatedly to merit the filing of a legal case. Ultimately, this is in the eye of the beholder, and you can seek advice and perspective from an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to decide whether or not an enforcement case would be worth the effort and would likely be successful if you seek it. Let's walk through some of the situations that may be one where you should sync a modification case. Bear in mind that everyone's circumstances are different but for you to bring an enforcement case we should have some idea of the circumstances that may require this type of filing and what it can mean for you and your family.
Child support enforcement cases
One of the most common types of enforcement cases that are sought after a divorce or child custody case is regarding child support. In a child support enforcement case you, as the parent who receives child support, would likely be bringing a lawsuit to notify the court that your Co-parent has failed to pay child support over an extended period. Usually, an enforcement case would not be brought until the value of child support last is greater than the cost of the enforcement case itself. Even then, it is important to stop bad behavior before it becomes habitual.
before bringing a child support enforcement case before a judge you can and should discuss the issue directly with your Co-parent first period if there is any way for you to avoid a situation where you must bring an enforcement case then you should attempt to do so. Sometimes this can be accomplished through directly communicating with your Co-parent about why he or she has missed child support. You may come to find out that he or she has lost their job, had an emergency, or otherwise had a disruption in their income that will not be habitual. At that point, the two of you can work on a plan for paying the money back over time. This is much preferable to going to court, hiring an attorney, and going through the process of an enforcement case.
Visitation and possession enforcement cases
next, in the context of child custody-related matters, you could want to bring an enforcement case if your pro parent has violated a court order regarding visitation or possession. For example, let's suppose that you are the parent who is the non-primary parent in terms of custody and conservatorships. In this situation, you have weekend visitation during the school year. With weekend visitation these limited opportunities to see your child are very important. However, if your Co-parent is withholding visitation, for the failure to pay child support or for any other reason, then this is a direct violation of your court order.
in that case, you could bring an enforcement case seeking to notify the court of these violations of your court order. You can request attorney’s fees, makeup visitation, and for your Co-parent to be fined for each of their violations. You need to keep a diary or chronicle all the violations regarding visitation. Specific dates, times, and proof that you were available for visitation, but that visitation was denied to you are essential for this type of case. If you were being denied visitation, I would create as much evidence to show a judge that this occurred.
Spousal maintenance enforcement cases
Even if you do not have any children, you can still find yourself in a position where you may need to bring an enforcement case. For example, consider a situation where your ex-spouse was ordered to pay you spousal maintenance because of your divorce. However, at a certain point, it became clear that your spouse had no intention of doing so and so he just stopped making those payments. Since your household budget may depend in part on the receipt of special maintenance payments this may hinder your ability to meet your obligations each month. therefore, you need to be able to address this issue.
In some ways, spousal maintenance payments are a little bit like child support payments. Can and should speak directly to your X-Files about why this castle maintenance payments were not being made. He or she may have a legitimate reason for having missed payments over the past few months. In that case, you can directly address this with him or her period however, if he or she simply no longer wishes to make the payments to you and is otherwise able to do so then an enforcement case may be your only remedy.
What are some of the advantages that you may gain from having an attorney for your enforcement case?
An enforcement case is a very particular type of family law case. There are limited circumstances in which you can bring an enforcement case against your ex-spouse or Co-parent. As a result, having an experienced family law attorney by your side can help you to identify potential cases where enforcement should be brought or whether you may be able to simply address the issue directly with your expose or co-parent to avoid having to file a lawsuit.
It is typical, for example, for the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to send a polite yet direct letter to your Co-parent to identify whether he or she will be willing to address the violation of your order without first having to go to court. This would save everyone a great deal of time and money. In the letter, we would address this specific wrong that you have undergone and will ask for a response from your Co-parent or X spouse. It may be that you are co-parent or your ex-spouse has a completely different view of the situation and simply spelling it up in writing may cause you all to understand that there has been a misunderstanding of some sort. Otherwise, if he or she is not receptive to working with you to address the issue then you may need to go ahead and file an enforcement case.
One of the great benefits of having an attorney by your side to walk with you through your case is that he or she will help you to get your case off the ground. I know that some of you reading this blog post have been thinking about some violation of your court orders for an extended period. Maybe you've thought about what enforcement could do for you, but you haven’t felt compelled to move forward and get the process started. Well, by first speaking to an attorney about the process and then hiring an attorney you are taking concrete steps towards achieving whatever goals you have in mind. After all, a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step. Additionally, that first step may be the most difficult one of all. Get some momentum behind you by hiring an attorney. You may be surprised to learn just how quickly you can get your case moving by doing so.
I have worked with plenty of clients who have filed enforcement cases on their own only to find out just how tedious a process it can be. This isn’t an attempt to try and dissuade you from filing an enforcement case. Rather, it is pointing out that when you try to initiate an enforcement case you may find that it is easier said than done. Even if you have a general understanding of how the process works it can be difficult to turn that understanding into real-life action. The last thing that you want to do is take time and money and waste it by making mistakes in trying to file and proceed with a case like this on your own. An attorney cannot promise you any particular result in your case but he or she can ensure that you get your case moving.
What to expect in your enforcement case?
An enforcement case can take a couple of different directions depending upon the nature of your case. For starters, consider whether you have an actual problem on your hands or if you have a misunderstanding. Here is some context for what I mean. A few years ago, I represented a client whose ex-husband had stopped paying child support a few months before his daughter's graduation from high school. She had attempted to contact him about this, but he seemingly did not care. Frustrated, this lady hired our law office to represent her. We mailed a letter to her ex-spouse about the missed child support.
Lo and behold, we did have a situation on our hands where her ex-husband was operating under a mistaken understanding about their divorce decree. Specifically, he thought that he could stop paying child support once the child turned 18- not when she graduated from high school. Since most divorce decrees require that child support be paid until the latter of the two events, he was in the wrong and our client was in the right. I was able to speak to his attorney who got that cleared up quickly.
In the end, we were able to work through the issue and get a payment plan started for him to begin to pay back our client relatively quickly. Now, if our client's ex-husband had been more communicative with her before she hired us it would have saved everyone time and money. However, sometimes all it takes is hearing something from another person to quickly change your perspective. Maybe this gentleman needed to hear the reality of the situation from another person for his mistake to sink in.
Attorneys perform several services for clients but not the least among them is being able to help their clients communicate better with an opposing party. Attorneys are supposed to be advocates but in some capacities, your attorney should be dispassionate so that he or she can assist you in communicating subject matter that may be difficult for your co-parent or ex-spouse to hear. Again, simply hearing something from another person may help you get your message across much better than using the same methods you had been employing previously.
The costs associated with enforcement can vary depending upon the length of the case. If your enforcement case requires that you go to a trial, then you are looking at spending more money than a case where you can resolve the issues outside of court. Working out payment plans, makeup visitation schedules, and the like are the sort of advantages that having an experienced attorney by your side can provide you with. A junior associate attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can lend you a loan just when you need it the most. Why not contact us today to set up a free-of-charge consultation to explore the benefits of hiring one of our lawyers?
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.