Brandon Young Bell

Contact Brandon Young Bell for a Consultation
Phone: (972) 668-1462 For Inquires Call To Schedule an Appointment

Address: 38 1st Street NW, Paris, Texas 75460

Enforcement of Orders

The enforcement of court orders is unfortunately a substantial part of a family lawyer's practice. Advice dealing with enforcement of child support orders is frequently sought both because of the immediate necessity of the support and because of the severe penalties widely known to be available to courts in dealing with overdue child support payments. Failure to pay child support can result in jail time or a fine. Other remedies include withholding from earnings, suspension of license, child support lien, and money judgment for child support arrearages.

Child Support Enforcement

A court order for child support may be enforced by contempt, punishable by confinement in jail, a fine, or both. When enforcement by contempt is sought, the alleged responsible party must be given notice of a hearing through personal service. If after being given proper notice, the party fails to appear for the hearing, a judge may authorize the arrest of the party. At the hearing, a court will hear from both parties. Several options are available to the court in a motion for contempt. The court can hold a person in contempt for failure to pay child support. The court may fine that person or even order confinement (jail). Courts may be hesitant to confine someone obligated to pay child support primarily because most people lose their earning potential while incarcerated, thus losing the ability to pay support. However, a defendant should not count on this, as Courts have the discretion and have a low tolerance for someone they consider a &#34deadbeat&#34. A court may probate the order, suspending the order of commitment (jail) as long as the violating party pays the support in the future.

There are also defenses available for failure to pay child support. The person violating the order may have been unable to pay and lacked the assets to come up with payment. Also, if the person with primary custody of the child voluntarily gave the party ordered to pay support possession of the child, this may serve as a defense to a contempt proceeding.

Another rather severe penalty for failing to pay court ordered child support is the suspension of state issued licenses. The requirements for this serious enforcement measure are as follows:

1) The support is 90 days in arrears;
2) The obligated payer has been given the     opportunity to make payments toward the late     support;
3) The obligated payer has failed to make     payments; and
4) The obligated payer has been given 60 days     proper notice prior to a hearing on the matter.

The licenses at risk of suspension include, but are not limited to the delinquent payer's driver's license, hunting or fishing license, and license to engage in a business. Any license issued by the state is at risk of suspension. The licenses may be restored when the obligation is met.

For an in-depth discussion of other enforcement measures or defenses to these measures contact Brandon Young Bell.

Custody Enforcement

The contentious nature and hard feelings associated with divorce and other child custody suits are often carried forward after an order is entered. This may result in disputes or outright intentional violations of possession orders. Generally, a visitation schedule is fairly clear. However, miscommunication or malice toward an ex-spouse can cause deviations from an ordered schedule.

While it is generally in everyone's best interest to attempt a resolution without going back to court, it is sometimes necessary to enforce custody and visitation orders by forcing a parent and sometimes a non-parent into compliance. Relief in usually sought through one of three actions. [Call the police / Habeas Corpus / Contempt proceeding]

A parent with a court ordered right to possession of a child may call the police at the moment he or she is not allowed to take rightful possession. While the police do have the authority to force parties to comply, the police will generally refer the reporting party to their attorney for relief.

In some cases, a parent can file an application for a writ of habeas corpus against another parent or non-parent who withholds possession of a child in violation of a court order for custody. This is a procedure where a selected court will consider only whether the person filing the writ is entitled to possession under a valid court order. If so, the child must immediately be returned to the rightful possessor meaning that granting the writ is mandatory if the order is violated. However, there are exceptions to the mandatory nature of the writ. A court can make an exception if there is a serious immediate question concerning the child's welfare. Also, a court can make an exception if the person entitled to possession under an order has voluntarily given up possession for six months or more.

Motion for Contempt

Much like a motion for contempt brought in a proceeding to enforce a child support order, a person violating a possession order can receive jail time or a fine. First, however, the alleged violator must be given an opportunity to present a defense. If the party seeking a contempt order has voluntarily given possession to the alleged violator of the order, this is a defense to the motion for contempt.

Brandon Young Bell

Areas of Practice
  • Family Law