Many people ignore family court orders to one extent or another and for one reason or another. In these circumstances, a motion to enforce is nearly always a necessity, because the situation will not improve on its own. Enforcement is one of the most intricate procedures in the Texas Family Code. There are specific requirements as to the motion’s content as well as its time frame, and noncompliance often leads to costly delays. Additionally, these motions must accomplish a dual purpose. They must not only enforce the order but also address the underlying reasons for the disobedience.
The attorneys at Griffin Miers understand that you and your family rely on total compliance with existing court orders regarding visitation, support, and property division. That is why we take the time to answer all your questions, then we take prompt and sustained action to uphold your legal and financial interests.
We also realize that action may be taken against you when it is not warranted and we work to fight frivolous enforcement claims.
Child Custody and Related Enforcement
Section 157 of the Family Code controls enforcement actions regarding visitation and support. A motion must state the exact nature of the violation and the precise nature of the relief requested. For example, a motion to enforce child support must state the date each payment was due, the amount actually paid, and the amount owed. It must also demand specific relief, which may include:
Contempt of Court: While most judges will not incarcerate people for failure to pay child support, they will not hesitate to assess fines of up to $500 per violation. Contempt is extremely effective in regards to custody, visitation, and other non-support violations.
Income Withholding: In many cases, the court can legally withhold up to 50 percent of an obligor’s paycheck for current support and overdue support. Self-employed obligors may be required to post a bond.
Child Support Lien: This lien attaches to any real property the obligor owns, and it must be satisfied before the property can be sold or transferred.
License Suspension: Under Section 232, a driver’s license or almost any other professional license may be suspended until the past-due support is paid. Such suspension usually requires a separate hearing.
Although technically one late payment or another incident may serve as a basis for a motion to enforce, judges are typically more prone to act if there is a pattern of misconduct.
Property Division Enforcement
If a party fails to pay spousal support or otherwise does not comply with a property division order, there are a number of remedies available, including:
Clarification: If the underlying order was not specific enough to be legally enforceable, the court could correct that error.
Turnover Order: The obligor must surrender any non-exempt property to the court. It is then sold and the proceeds forwarded to the obligee.
Money Judgement: The obligee can enforce this judgment by any means available for standard civil judgments.
Since divorce decrees are typically enforceable as legal documents, a breach of contract action may also be appropriate, in some cases. An enforcement action punishes prior noncompliance and establishes a framework for future compliance. If you are need of enforcement help, contact Griffin Miers at (817) 585-8888 or on the contact form.