How to Enforce a Court Order
Some clients find that once they secure a judgment on issues such as child support, property division, or child custody, their legal battles are far from over. If the other party refuses to comply with the terms of the order, it is likely you will have to return to court.
Courts expect that their orders will be followed, so they take requests to enforce orders and motions for contempt seriously. Motions to enforce and motions for contempt are used under different circumstances, however, both are used to tell the court that a party to a judgment is not complying. The judgment at issue can be one that was decided by the trial court judge or one that was agreed to by the parties and accepted by the trial court.
At the hearing on either type motion, the complaining party has the burden to show that the other party has not complied with the order. This may be done through testimony of the parties, other witnesses or phone records. Typically, it is advisable for non-compliance to be substantial. For example, if the other parent is a little late dropping off the children off, that is not usually cause for filing a motion.
Defenses to Enforcement Actions
A party may be able to argue that the order as written is ambiguous and thus unenforceable. If the trial court agrees, the order will be reformulated so that it is clear. A defending party may also argue that the other parent (the parent who brought the action) has not been following other aspects of the order. If this is the case, the judge may not punish either side and will try to determine how to alter the order so that it is workable for both sides.
Penalties Associated with Failing to Comply with a Court Order
A court has several options for punishment if a party has not been following an order. It can order that the party must pay a fine or even be sent to jail if the parent’s actions are extreme. It is also common for a judge to order the non-complying parent to pay the other side’s court costs and attorney’s fees in conjunction with the hearing.
Contact a Richmond, Texas, Family Law Order Enforcement Attorney
The Richmond, Texas family divorce lawyer at The Vendt Law Firm, PLLC, has the experience needed to get an existing court order enforced or to defend against enforcement actions. Our firm can be reached at (832) 276-9474.