You’ve just gone through a taxing family court case, whether it involves child custody or property division. You breathe a sigh of relief as the court issues its final orders. However, soon enough, you find that the other party is not abiding by those court orders. What do you do next? In Texas, you primarily have two legal recourses at your disposal: Motion to Enforce and Motion for Contempt. Understanding the nuances between these two can make a world of difference when you’re looking to secure your rights and the court’s mandate.
A motion to enforce is used when one party to a court order fails to comply with its terms. For example, if your ex-spouse is ordered to pay child support but fails to do so, you can file a motion to enforce to compel them to comply.
A motion to enforce is a civil proceeding, and its purpose is to obtain compliance with the court order, not to punish the non-compliant party. If the court finds that the other party has violated the court order, it can order them to take various steps to comply, such as paying child support, returning property, or allowing visitation.
A motion for contempt is used when one party to a court order willfully and intentionally disobeys the court’s orders. For example, if your ex-spouse is ordered to allow you to have visitation with your children but refuses to do so, you can file a motion for contempt.
A motion for contempt is a criminal proceeding, and its purpose is to punish the non-compliant party for disobeying the court’s orders. If the court finds that the other party is in contempt, it can impose a variety of penalties, including fines, jail time, and attorney’s fees.
Before you decide between the two, it’s important to consult attorneys in Amarillo, Texas to understand the procedural aspects involved.
Motion to Enforce
Motion for Contempt
In deciding whether to file a motion to enforce or a motion for contempt, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
The Nature of the Violation
The first factor the court considers is what the violation entails. If the issue is minor or could be seen as a simple misunderstanding, the court may lean towards a Motion to Enforce. However, for severe or ongoing violations, a Motion for Contempt may be more appropriate.
Willfulness and Intentionality
The court will look into whether the non-compliant party willfully and intentionally violated the court order. Mere negligence or unintentional actions might not warrant a Motion for Contempt but could still be addressed through a Motion to Enforce.
History of Compliance
A party’s history of compliance or non-compliance with court orders will also be evaluated. If this is the first instance of non-compliance, the court may be more lenient. On the other hand, repeated violations could result in the court leaning towards more punitive measures like a Motion for Contempt.
Impact on the Other Party and Their Children
Lastly, the court will consider how the violation has impacted the lives of the affected party and, if applicable, their children. In matters of child support, custody, or visitation, the well-being of the child is often paramount. If a violation has had a severe detrimental impact, a Motion for Contempt, which could include penalties or jail time, may be more likely.
The labyrinth of family law can be overwhelming, especially when court orders are not followed as they should be. Whether to file a Motion to Enforce or a Motion for Contempt depends on your ultimate objective—do you want to compel compliance, or are you looking for punitive action? Either way, reaching out to a family law attorney is indispensable.
At Chip Parker Law Firm, we focus in guiding clients through these complex choices–ensuring that their rights are upheld. Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step toward resolving your legal troubles.
Time is of the essence. The sooner you act, the more legal options can work for you. Call us now at (806) 379-2010, or fill-up the form below.