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How To Enforce A Child Custody Order In Texas

Child custody orders are court-ordered documents that may be enforced by a judge.  If the other parent is refusing to follow the court order, you can bring an enforcement action in court to request that the judge find the other parent in contempt of court.  As stated in each order, “A finding of contempt may be punished by confinement in jail for up to 6 months, a fine of up to $500 for each violation, and a money judgment for payment of attorney’s fees and court costs.”

What Does This Mean?

Since custody orders are civil orders rather than criminal laws, it is up to the judge to enforce the orders.  The police do not have the authority to find someone in contempt of court for failing to follow court orders.  In general, absent an emergency, it is best not to get the police involved in custody disputes and leave the enforcement to the court.  Based on the severity of the situation, the judge has the discretion to impose fines and jail time to enforce your court order against the other party.  The judge can also order make-up time for the party who missed out on visitation time.

In instances where the other parent fails to meet their obligations as stipulated in the custody or support order, it might become necessary for you to seek the intervention of the court to ensure their compliance. In the state of Texas, there exists a range of methods through which a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) can be enforced effectively. These enforcement mechanisms are designed to uphold the well-being of the child and the integrity of the custody or support arrangement. In Texas, there are several enforcement methods for a SAPCR including:

1. Civil & Criminal Contempt: Pursue civil contempt when deliberate disobedience of the court order is evident. Opt for criminal contempt if the non-compliance directly violates the court order, potentially leading to penalties or imprisonment.

2. Wage Garnishment: Redirect a portion of the non-compliant parent’s income towards meeting their financial obligations as per the custody or support order. This ensures consistent support for the child’s well-being.

3. Property Liens: Place liens on the non-compliant parent’s assets or property, such as real estate. This financial encumbrance compels adherence to the custody or support order.

4. License Suspension: Suspend state licenses held by the non-compliant parent, such as driver’s licenses or professional licenses. This exerts pressure on them to fulfill their obligations to regain their licenses.

5. Seizure of Tax Refunds: In more severe cases, seize tax refunds owed to the non-compliant parent to settle their outstanding support obligations. This utilizes their financial resources to satisfy their debt under the court order.

Each of these enforcement methods prioritizes the best interests of the child involved, aiming to ensure their emotional and financial well-being. When faced with a situation where the other parent is not upholding the responsibilities outlined in the custody or support order, these legal avenues can be instrumental in compelling compliance and safeguarding the child’s rights and welfare.

Enforcement Actions

In filing an enforcement action, it is important to be specific in the pleadings as to how the other party has violated the order.  Therefore, it is important to first make sure that you know what is in your order and that you are following it to the best of your ability.  If your order says that you have the right to pick up your children on Thursdays at 6:00 pm at the other parent’s house, then you need to be at that right place on the right day and time, because that is the circumstance where the other parent cannot legally deny you visitation.

Do everything you can to try to follow the court orders, then keep a journal noting every date and time that the other party violated the court order and what happened.  That way, you can be ready to bring an enforcement action in court.  If you need help bringing an enforcement action in court or understanding your rights imposed in your order, give us a call!

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced Texas custody lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Learn about our child custody lawyers in Austin our child custody lawyers in San Antonio and our child custody lawyers in Dallas. Let us make a positive difference in your life.



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Austin, TX 78759

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San Antonio, TX 78216

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Dallas, TX 75231

(469) 871-8050

Posted April 09, 2024

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