Dallas Enforcement Lawyers
Helping You Enforce Legal Orders
Once a divorce is read into the record, both parties are obligated to uphold the judgments governing support and custody. If the parties violate these judgments, they not only cause emotional and financial difficulties for a family — they are also in contempt of court.
Fortunately, the courts allow for enforcement mechanisms so that people can obtain accountability and force the violating party to uphold the judgment, face fines or even go to jail. If you are working through a family law issue where someone is in contempt of court, we are prepared to work to obtain the accountability and justice you deserve.
How Does Order Enforcement Work in TX?
The general process for enforcing most types of court orders in Texas is similar, although the details vary on a case-by-case basis and depending on the type of order in question.
Typically, the party who wishes to obtain enforcement (the plaintiff) must file a request for enforcement with the court that issued the original order, similar to a modification case.
If the court rules in the plaintiff's favor, they can take a number of measures to ensure the other party (the defendant) abides by the terms of the order and fulfills the terms of their arrangement.
Child Support & Custody Enforcement in TX
Individuals who wish to enforce a child support order must work with the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The OAG can examine the details of a case to determine whether a child support payor is delinquent on payments.
If so, the OAG can impose the following actions to encourage a delinquent payor to repay missed child support:
- Suspend licenses the delinquent payor possesses, including their driver's license;
- Deny their passport;
- File liens on their property, including bank accounts, to repay missed support;
- Report them to their credit bureau;
- Intercept certain awards, such as lottery winnings, to repay missed support;
- Hold them in contempt, forcing the payor to remain in jail until they repay missed support.
Generally, the OAG will pursue methods of compensation that don't involve fining or jailing the payor, since those conditions could make it more difficult for the payor to catch up on missed support payments.
Enforcing the terms of a custody or visitation order is a little different. The plaintiff will work with their local family law court instead of the OAG.
The plaintiff must provide the court with a copy of the original custody or visitation order, as well as evidence that the defendant is failing to uphold their end of that arrangement. Importantly, the plaintiff must also prove that the defendant has a pattern of failing in their custody obligation. Providing supporting evidence, such as witness testimony, a paper trail, or police reports, are all common ways to prove the need for order enforcement to a court.
Depending on the severity of the case, the court may take immediate measures to provide the plaintiff with custody of the child (if they believe the child is in imminent danger while with the defendant).
The court may also hold the defendant in civil or criminal contempt if found guilty.
The punishment for civil contempt often involves the defendant taking various measures to address their shortcomings, such as compensating the plaintiff or offering make-up visitation.
As we covered earlier, the punishment for criminal contempt is generally incarceration in jail for a set amount of time.
Enforcing Alimony Orders in TX
Enforcing alimony arrangements is often simpler than enforcing a custody or support order because the case doesn't involve children.
The plaintiff must demonstrate to a judge that the defendant has reneged on their spousal support obligation.
If the judge ruled in the plaintiff's favor, they often hold the defendant in contempt of court, requiring them to repay missed spousal support or suffer incarceration.
During enforcement custody, support, and alimony cases, the defendant may show the court that they have a legitimate reason for being unable to uphold a court order, such as losing their job or suffering another significant change in circumstances. In such cases, the court may modify the order and forgive some or all of the defendant's transgressions, depending on the order's details and the case in general.
At Verner Brumley Mueller Parker, each of our partners is board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. In practice, this means that every partner has a comprehensive knowledge base from which to draw to resolve these issues most efficiently and effectively.
We will work directly with you to inform you of all options. From there, our attorneys will employ the best method of reaching the most equitable outcome; this may include the enforcement of order through arrears or wage garnishment.
Regardless of the issues you are facing, and you owe it to yourself to take decisive action and resolve them as soon as possible.