All too often just when an ex-spouse is about to relax into the new normal of a post-divorce lifestyle, the former partner fails to follow a court order. Unfortunately, this action creates more turmoil and the necessity for more legal entanglement. Whether the other party has failed to pay child support, follow the rules governing visitation, divide marital assets as stipulated, or pay court-ordered spousal support, the services of an experienced family law attorney are required. If you are dealing with the frustration and fallout of this situation, contacting the Youngberg Law Firm is a wise move.
Our practice is dedicated to making divorce as simple and stress-free as possible, even in the face of an ex-spouse who seems determined to create turbulence. If your ex makes negotiation impossible, we can obtain an order of contempt to force his or her compliance. In a great many cases, the threat of a fine or jail time is sufficient to coerce cooperation.
The Language of Enforcement
As courts know well, court orders must have an authoritative tone to be effective. Court orders “command” violators in unambiguous language to take immediate action. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the uncooperative ex-spouse may be ordered to “surrender” the child at the appropriate times for visitation, stop certain behaviors, or to pay the owed child or spousal support. In any case, the order must be specific regarding times, amounts, and locations.
What happens if a person is found in contempt of court?
On some occasions, of course, the court order doesn’t work as intended and the demanded action is not taken by the disobedient ex-spouse. In these cases, he or she can be found in contempt of court and will be fined by the judge or confined to the county jail. Most often, if the ex-spouse is sentenced to jail, the judge will suspend the sentence, particularly if the convicted person owes money to the former partner.
This is because serving jail time is counterproductive since it may cause the individual to lose his or her job and therefore be unable to pay debts. Instead, the judge is likely to add attorneys’ fees, court costs, and a fine to the person’s accumulated debt. In addition, the judge may place the individual on probation (or “community supervision”) for as long as 10 years.
If the ex-spouse still fails to comply with the order’s requirements, he or she may have to serve time in jail. Although we do not have “debtors prison” in this country, child support is not considered a debt but a legal parental responsibility. For this reason, non-support is considered an offense that can be punished with incarceration.
When a Non-Custodial Parent Is Denied Visitation
In most cases, the justice system considers the bonds between children and their parents inviolable. Even if a divorced parent is incarcerated, visits of children with their parents are normally arranged. In certain other circumstances, such as when the noncustodial parent is a substance abuser, the visits of a child with a parent may require third-party supervision.
Though in extreme cases the court may enforce an order to deny a parent visitation with his or her own child, in Texas, this is very rare. Even if the custodial parent suspects the noncustodial parent of abuse or neglect, they will need to convince that it is in the best interest of the child for the other parent to have no possession of the child and that can be very difficult. The child him-or-herself cannot decide whether to visit with the noncustodial parent until he or she reaches 18 years of age, though they may be able to provide their opinion to the court if they are over 12 years of age and in limited circumstances when they are younger than 12. In unusual situations, the court may issue a court order forbidding visitation, often in cases where abuse of the child has been proven or if the parent in question is an unrecovered addict who may endanger the child. Even in these cases, the order is usually in force only until that parent finishes a rehabilitation program.
At the Youngberg Law Firm, We Are Always on Your Side
After years of experience, we are fully aware that there are two sides to every story and once we take your case we are committed to you. Whether you are not being paid the child support you are owed, being prevented from exercising your rights to visit with your own children, or fear for the safety of your child when that child is with his or her other parent, Youngberg Family Law is ready to protect you and your kids. We are equally effective in obtaining enforcement of a court order or defending against one. Mike Youngberg has sharp skills both as a negotiator and a litigator. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner he can begin providing you with excellent legal assistance.