Enforcement Actions

Making the other parent obey the Court’s orders

You have been to court and the Judge has either heard testimony and made a decision, or perhaps even granted an agreed order based on a mediated settlement agreement.  The case is finally over and now you are ready to move on with your life, but the other parent is not.  This is a very common scenario.  One parent is just “not finished”; they agreed to something knowing up front that he or she had no intention of following through; or for some reason they have decided that he or she deserves a different outcome and they are going the self-help route.  No matter the reason or how you go to this place in time, the problem comes down to one simple matter – one parent is not following the court orders.

Man in handcuffs for not following court orders to pay child support

The Court has the power to enforce it’s own orders through contempt. Failure to pay child support can result in arrest.

When a Judge issues an order it is an order of the court regardless of whether the judge had to rule on the issue himself or you brought in an agreed order signed by both parents.  When a judge signs the order it becomes that judge’s ruling and a judge can enforce his or her orders with contempt.  Just as a parent can punish a disobedient child, a judge can punish a disobedient parent-conservator.  The judge cannot use corporal punishment – as much as he or she may want or thing it is appropriate, but the judge can use fines and jail to enforce orders.

Often times when one parent gets angry with the other parent after the divorce or child custody battle is over, the angry parent chooses to punish the other parent the only way he or she can – by refusing to pay child support or refusing to let the other parent see the kids.  WRONG ANSWER.  When the judge banged the gavel and ruled that one of you must pay child support, you MUST PAY CHILD SUPPORT and you must do it the way you were told to do it.  Think this through, if your boss tells you to perform certain tasks and is clear and concise on what tasks must be done and the time frame in which it must be accomplished – would you ever consider ignoring those instructions to punish your ex?  No!  Why would you do this to a judge who has the power to fine you or even throw you in jail?

By in the middle of a custody fight by parents

Don’t put the child in the middle of your adult legal affairs. The children are not pawns to punish the other side, that is the duty of the Judge and contempt proceedings.

Years ago I handled a case where Mom was not done, she did not want Dad to see her children.  She decided that it did not matter what the Judge said, she was not going to allow it.  We filed a complaint and served her with and enforcement action.  The Judge chewed  her out, explained it did not matter if she disagreed or not, it was his orders and she has to obey court orders.  A month later, we are back in court, mom is still ignoring the court orders because she did not want to obey them.  This time the Judge fined her, ordered make-up visitation, and warned her, there better not be a next time.  A couple months later, she is still ignoring the judge’s orders so we held her in contempt a third time and what happened next was incredible.  The Judge walked in, looked at mom then dad and asked one question: “Sir, do you want custody of the children?”  Dad answered yes and the judge turned to Mom and said “you better hope he does not treat you the way you treated him, custody is awarded t the father, don’t let me see you in my court again.”

Was the Judge’s ruling legal?  I don’t know, it was not appealed.  The point is – A judge has a lot of power and a judge does not make rulings for his or her own health and a judge does not like reminding parents over and over to obey court orders.  If you are not receiving child support, you cannot deny visitation until the father pays.  If you are not being permitted to see the children, you cannot withhold child support until mom allows you visitation.  Child support and child visitation are related but they are not interdependent.  In other words, if one party is not obeying a court order, that does not justify your disobeying a court order and vice versa.

When the other parent disobeys the court’s orders and does not pay child support or denies access/visitation with the children, the proper procedure is to hire a child support  or child custody attorney and hold the other parent in contempt.  Self-help should be limited to advising what you plan to do if a change is not made immediately.  Otherwise, hire a skilled family law attorney and let the Judge know that the other parent is disobeying his orders.


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Aggressive divorce and custody attorney with offices in Plano, Texas and McKinney Texas that will enforce your custody and child ...

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Contempt – when you don’t obey the court orders

Child support and child custody orders are judicial orders and disobedience is contempt.

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