ENFORCEMENT ATTORNEY SERVING DENTON & NORTH TEXAS
Few things are more frustrating than spending a ton of money, time and energy obtaining a court order in a divorce case or heated custody battle only to have the opposing party refuse to comply with the court order to make the court-ordered child support, spousal maintenance, health insurance or uninsured medical payments or follow the court’s orders for custody and visitation. Not only can this put undue stress on you as a parent, it can be detrimental for the child as well. Luckily, in the state of Texas you still have legal recourse to pursue enforcement.
As an enforcement suit may result in some of the harsher punishments available in family law cases, sometimes even including jail time for the non-compliant party, the petition for filing such a suit is one of the more detailed and difficult petitioners that can be filed. It must specifically request the language previously ordered by the court and the particular relief requested. The petition must provide detailed evidence sufficient to provide notice to the opposing party of the accusations against them. Enforcement suits also require that the party subject to enforcement be served in a particular manner to ensure that the party has adequate notice of the allegations against them and upcoming court appearances scheduled in the case. For these reasons, it is almost impossible to file and enforcement suit without the assistance of an experienced attorney who specializes in family law and enforcement proceedings.
Defending against a petition for enforcement may also be complicated. While it may appear to be a hopeless endeavor, an attorney familiar with this area of the law may be able to offer a variety of options including challenges to the language, dates, details or evidence contained in the petition outlining the basis for the enforcement, logistical or financial inability to comply with the court’s order, anticipated options for remedying the actions that lead to non-compliance with the order or alternative options to satisfy the party seeking enforcement. As such, it is equally important to secure the representation of an experienced attorney to assist you in defending against a suit for enforcement as the consequences of failing to mount a zealous defense may be devastating.
Brandi Underwood is certified to practice law in the state of Texas, is a member of the Denton County Bar Association – Family Law Section and Collin County Bar Association – Family Law Section, and has ten years of experience representing clients in North Texas on all kinds of Family Law cases including enforcement of support, custody, and similar issues. If you have questions or need legal assistance with an enforcement case and live in Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Sanger, Krum, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Anna, McKinney, Allen, The Colony, or the surrounding areas, it’s in your best interest to contact Brandi to schedule a free consultation at 940.372.0931 or by filling out the online contact form.
QUALIFYING REASONS FOR FILING AN ENFORCMENT
There are quite a few arguments that an experienced attorney like Brandi Underwood can make on your behalf when your ex fails to adhere to court-ordered mandates. This includes anytime they:
- Fail to adhere to the court-ordered custody ruling
- Fail to follow the court-ordered rules for visitation
- Fail to provide the court-ordered financial support, including health insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses
- Fail to follow the court orders with regard to the property division
If successful, the enforcement proceeding will result in the offending party being found in contempt of court which could result in a judgement for financial expenses, probation, fines, a change in custody, loss of time with the children, award of property to the other party, or even jail time. The judge in your case will take all factors into consideration, including how the penalties might impact the children.
In situations where the enforcement involves failure to pay of spousal maintenance, child support, medical support or uninsured medical expenses, an enforcement ruling can allow you to garnish wages for the current support owed as well as the arrearages owed. This will allow you to take money directly from their employer, without the negligent parent having a chance to interfere.
It is also possible to request that the non-compliant party pay any costs and attorney’s fees that you incur in conjunction with bringing a suit for enforcement. While it is rare to receive a judgment for costs and attorney’s fees in most family law suits, it is more common in enforcement suits. In certain circumstances, it may also be possible to have funds awarded for costs and attorney’s fees withheld from the non-compliant party’s paycheck.
An enforcement may also be used as a tool to encourage the non-compliant party to accept a termination of their parental rights, particularly if the non-complaint party has other issues or is not regularly involved in the child’s life. If your ultimate goal is to secure a termination and subsequent adoption, an enforcement action may serve as the incentive needed to secure that goal and may actually benefit both parties in the end.
Brandi will review your case with you and help you make the best decision about how to proceed with legal action against the non-complaint party if they are not following court-mandated instructions for custody, visitation, support, property awards and similar orders.
DEFENDING AGAINST AN ENFORCEMENT SUIT
Notice that you have been sued for enforcement of a court order is never welcome news and unfortunately these suits often end in a loss for the party against whom the suit is filed. While it should always be your goal to prevent the issuance of an unfavorable ruling against you, some of the apparently unfortunate outcomes of an enforcement suit may be mitigated or even turned to your advantage.
It is often possible to challenge an enforcement action by identifying incorrect or false dates, locations, details, or evidence contained in the petition or the enforceability of the original order. An argument could be made that you were unable to make the payments ordered or comply with the other terms provided for as a result of some logistical barrier such as, inability to surrender the children to the other parent for fear that they would harm the children or an inability to pay due to incarceration, medical challenges or unemployability. While the issuance of a wage withholding order may appear to be a punishment for the non-complaint party, it may also be a benefit. Having payment for spousal maintenance or child support withheld from your paycheck will allow the Attorney General’s Office to tract and manage all payments made, preventing either party from making incorrect or false allegations against the other. It will also make compliance with the order requiring payments much easier, as it will no longer require you to mail a payment to the opposing party or into the Attorney General’s Office or to make other payment arrangements. An agreement might also be reached which would allow for the termination of your parental rights. While this may be a negative outcome in many cases, it can also be a positive outcome if you have not established or maintained a meaningful relationship with the child and seek to terminate your obligation to continue to provide support.
ENFORCING YOUR COURT ORDERS IN NORTH TEXAS
The need to file for enforcement or to defend against one can be overwhelming and intimidating. However, it may be your only option. The good news is, you and your children don’t have to face these proceedings alone. Brandi is willing to discuss your case personally and explore what options would give you the best results, no matter how complex, stressful, or contentious the specifics of your case may be. If you are in Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Sanger, Krum, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Anna, McKinney, Allen, The Colony, or any of the other surrounding areas, call today to schedule a free consultation with Brandi. There is no cost or obligation. Call today at 940.372.0931 or fill out our online contact form.