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.