When a Texas resident has gone through the hassle of finalizing their divorce, including settling issues such as child custody, child support, and visitation, there can be nothing as frustrating as a former spouse refusing to honor the terms of the agreement. This can leave the other parent feeling frustrated and anxious, unsure of what will happen next, and lend instability to the children's lives. However, it may be possible to enforce a child custody order through contempt of court proceedings.
First of all, enforcement refers to proceedings that force a party to fulfill their obligations under an original order. With regards to family law, this process can be to enforce child custody, visitation, child support, or post-divorce spousal support.
The court order must be clear, specific, and unambiguous in order to be enforced through contempt proceedings. For example, if the order to be enforced is one regarding visitation, then the original order must specifically state that one parent must surrender the children at a specific location at a specific time and the other parent has to return the children at a specific time and a specific location. All of these details, and others, must be clearly outlined in the original agreement. If the original agreement is about child support, then it must specify the exact amount to be paid, the date on which it must be paid and to whom, the location of the payment, and the date until which the payments will stop.
However, simply because the language is unclear does not automatically mean that the proceedings cannot continue. Instead, the judge may elect to modify the agreement to clarify it and then give the other party time to abide by it. If someone is still found in contempt, then the judge can order a fine or confine the party to jail, depending on the circumstances.
Filing to hold someone in contempt of court is a powerful tool, but it isn't right for every situation. It is therefore important to know how family law can help you enforce your rights if one party is not obeying a court order. An experienced attorney may be able to explain the law and provide legal guidance to Texan residents.