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Keeping track of violations is key to winning an enforcement case in Texas

Keeping track of violations is key to winning an enforcement case in Texas

If you are a divorced parent then you know the reality of having to rely on your former spouse to drop your child off at the right time for your time with him or her to begin. Nothing is more frustrating than believing that you are about to see your child and then out of nowhere you get a phone call or text or maybe even nothing at all telling you that it may be 6:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon but you won’t be on your way home with your child. This is heart wrenching more than anything else because of the fact that you don’t get to see your children for reasons that are beyond your control.

What you can control, however, is your response to being denied time with your child that is court ordered to be yours. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to share with you some tips and advice on how to not only deal with the immediate concerns you have with being denied your time with your children, but also how to plan for how to address this denial through a court, if necessary.

Review your Order to ensure that you understand what it has to say

The road map that you will be traveling with until your child graduates from high school is your Final Decree of Divorce. Your possession and visitation guidelines are laid out for you to always be able to reference and look to for guidance on the important subject of who gets to be in possession of your child and when. If you know what your order has to say and what it means for you then you can save yourself a great deal of trouble.

What I mean by that prior sentence is that your Final Decree of Divorce, while not written in Latin, is written in legalize and for that reason can be difficult to understand. If you are unsure of particular portions of your Decree and their meaning I would recommend you have an attorney review the document and speak to you about any section that is not clear in its meaning. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC and our attorneys offer this sort of service to clients at a reduced fee rate, if you are interested in learning more.

If you don’t believe that you should know what every word in your divorce decree means consider the following story as a cautionary tale. A former client of ours re-hired us after her ex husband was making a habit of dropping off the children late and also picking them up late. The issue centered around his having moved residences further away than he had at the time the divorce had been agreed to a year prior.

What she failed to mention to our office the moments before she was set to sign a contract with us was that she too had moved out of the original county that the spouses had both agreed to live in under the rules set forth in the final decree of divorce. If she chose to move, then her ex husband could move as well. For what it’s worth, both parents had lived in Harris County originally. Our former client then moved to Galveston County. Many divorce decrees force both parents to live in the same county so as to make transportation of children easier and encourage both parents to have frequent contact with their children. When our client chose to move, she also chose to absolve her ex husband of having to do all of the driving and transportation on weekends.

Our client didn’t realize this and we had to inform her of this at her initial consultation. The issues she was having with transportation and time of travel were basically her own doing. Had she remained in Harris County, her ex husband would have had to as well and this issue would not have arisen. The moral of the story is to know exactly what your court order has to say. Not some or most of it- all of it.

Keep an accurate log of denials of visitation to reference in the future

If you are being denied visitation or if the children are being made available to you at times or dates that are not in agreement with what your final decree of divorce has to say then it is crucial to keep a journal or other written source of those violations. The reason being is that if you want to seek an enforcement case to hold your ex spouse in contempt of court for violating its order you must be extremely specific in the date/time/etc. of the violation. Simply alleging “general” violations will not do. Keeping a calendar or journal helps to illustrate points to a judge and will certainly help your attorney in preparing your case for a hearing.

One last point that may seem straightforward but can be overlooked in this type of scenario- you must have actually been present at the pick up/drop off point in order to assert a violation. In other words, you cannot have been told beforehand by your ex spouse that they intend to violate the order by arriving late at the checkpoint or even not showing up at all. You must be present at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, for example, and be denied possession of your child. Going to a nearby McDonalds and buying an ice cream cone is something I’ll always tell clients to do to establish that you were present at the location and did not receive your child. For one, ice cream is delicious. Also, getting a receipt placing you at or near your drop off/pick up point is important to establish that you were actually denied possession on the occasion that you are alleging.

Questions on enforcement and visitation denials? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you find yourself with questions on the subject of enforcements, child possession, visitation or anything in between please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our office is standing by and we are available to meet with you six days a week.