Obtaining a court order is an essential step in all family law matters; however, the ability to enforce the order is the most meaningful part of the process to most people. The courts in Texas have the power to enter “contempt” orders against persons who disobey those orders. Contempt orders may include sentencing a person to jail, assessing fines against him or her, ordering the party to pay attorney’s fees and expenses, and other remedies.
Because the court has the authority to levy harsh punishment upon a person who disobeys its instructions, Texas law requires that the terminology used in the order itself must be very precise. Sometimes, a person escapes the wrath of the judge due to what the aggrieved party would call “a technicality.” Avoiding those technicalities by drafting specific orders is a very important aspect of the lawyer’s task in representing a client.
If an order has been violated, the Family Code grants the court the authority to enforce it in several different fashions. For obvious reasons, the remedies available to enforce orders concerning property matters are different than those utilized to enforce child support payments. Understanding what avenues are available, and what a particular judge is likely to do, are very important aspects of representing clients who seek enforcement orders.
More detailed information can be located on our “Enforcement in Texas” page.