Any time there is a Court Order that requires someone to do something, whether it be pay child support, surrender the child or children for Texas Court-Ordered possession and access, or perform various other acts, there is the potential that they will not (or cannot) do it. When the party decides not to do what the Court orders, the other party may have the ability to file a Motion for Enforcement, or what is also sometimes called a Motion for Contempt.
If the thing that the other person was supposed to do was a duty required by statute or by a mere agreement with the other side (e.g. – a Rule 11 Agreement between attorneys), then the party seeking to file an enforcement action will first want to obtain a Court Order, or an Order Compelling the person to perform the act in question prior to filing an enforcement action.
One of the most commonly filed actions for Enforcement of a Court Order is for child support. An action for enforcement is usually combined with a request that the Court reduce the amount of child support to Judgment. Once the Judgment is rendered, then ordinary collection remedies will apply – along with various other statutory collection remedies that only apply in child support cases (e.g. – revocation of a hunting license, professional license or driver’s license).
Another commonly filed Motion for Enforcement concerns Court-Ordered possession or access to a child or children (“visitation”). If the custodial parent is not allowing the child visitation with the other parent, then the non-custodial parent may be able to file an Enforcement action. The non-custodial parent will want to be sure that they have explicitly demanded (preferably in writing with Certified Mail and Regular Mail delivery) visitation with their child on the days that the Court has ordered possession. Once there is a continuing pattern to the custodial parent’s behavior, then the non-custodial parent may want to file an Enforcement Action.
The Court’s powers of contempt may include jail and/or the payment of fines or penalties, including attorney’s fees. You will want to consult an attorney about the filing of any of these actions.
If you have a legal issue related to Child Support Enforcement in a Family Law context in Texas, please contact Cindy Veidt for an appointment to discuss.