If you have been served with papers from your ex-spouse asserting that you have violated your Divorce Decree it may be the case that you have been caught off guard and don’t really know what to think.
From my experiences representing clients in family lawcases, it is often missed child support payments that wind up with a lawsuit being filed an effort to recoup those payments. Your divorce happened not too long ago and now you are being summoned back to court. How should you proceed?
Hiring an attorney is a good place to start. If you were satisfied with the representation that you received in your divorce it may be a good idea to hire that same attorney for this enforcement case. After all, he or she is at least somewhat familiar with your circumstances and you would have some comfort in already having worked with that attorney.
Once you have hired an attorney and filed your Answer to the Enforcementsuit it is a good idea to schedule a time to meet with your attorney to discuss your goals for this case. Just because you are in the defensive position does not mean that you should seek only to rebuff the violations that are being alleged of you.
How a judge is likely to rule should influence your approach to the case
Keep in mind as you meet with your attorney that it is likely that he or she has some experience trying cases in front of the judge that you are scheduled to appear before. Some judges have a reputation of being extremely hard on parents who do not pay child support.
As a result, jail time may be a possibility if your spouse has asked the court to consider that punishment. On the other hand, some judges do not take as hard a stance on this subject and may just award attorney’s fees and past due amounts of support to your ex-spouse.
My point is knowing this sort of information can be critical to understanding your options and mapping out a game plan for your case. If you have an opportunity to settle your case before a hearing based on your knowledge of the judge’s tendencies then doing so may be in your best interests.
Conversely, if you have evidence to counteract the allegations made by your ex-spouse in their petition and your judge is open-minded on the subject it may be in your best interests to proceed to a trial.
Setting goals with your attorney at the outset of your case
While an enforcement case is heard in civil court, before a family law judge it is unique in that it combines elements of criminal law proceedings as well. Specifically, your spouse may have filed a request to have you serve up to 180 days in jail as a result of your having violated the court’s orders regarding the payment of child support.
Does this mean that you are likely to go to jail if you lose your hearing? No. However, it is a possibility and as such, you should treat this scenario with the respect that it deserves.
From an attorney’s vantage point, if I am able to keep you from serving time in jail for any alleged violations of your court order then that is a good outcome. Any positives on top of that are gravy on the biscuit as my father in law likes to say.
If you do in fact owe child support there is little doubt, in most circumstances, that you will have to pay the money. If you speak with your attorney and this is determined then your attorney can use their negotiation skills to work out a repayment plan for you.
If your attorney works closely with you on the repayment of support it can minimize attorney’s fees that have to be paid and will go a long way towards putting this case behind you. In the event that you get caught up on payment prior to the hearing, you are not at risk of going to jail.
An example of a successful defense of an enforcement case
This past year I represented a father who owed a fair amount of back child support. He had his reasons for not having paid on time, including having lost a job and suffered a small injury at work. He understood that he needed to pay the child support and what the consequences were if he did not.
If we isolate those two pieces of understanding, I would argue that this knowledge is as important as any other in the whole case. As a result, he made an effort to collect the past monies that he owed and paid them to his ex-spouse through the State Disbursement Unit.
As a result of his good faith attempts to quickly get current on support owed, I was able to negotiate a nonsuit with his ex-spouse’s attorney. This means that due to the past due support having been paid (in addition to some attorney’s fees for opposing counsel) the case was dropped with no record of it ever having been filed.
The victory for our client was that in the future if he has to come back as a defendant in this same position he will be judged as a first time “offender” rather than a repeat violator of his order. Depending on the judge that hears his case this can make a big difference.
Enforcement proceedings are serious. Contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you value hard work, determination, strong advocacy and doing right by others then the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are your type of representatives. We value our clients and place their interests ahead of our own in every instance.
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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
- 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, PLLC | Spring, Texas Enforcement Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding order enforcement, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX EnforcementLawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our enforcement lawyers in Spring 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles enforcement cases in spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.