When you begin a relationship, you do not know where life might take you. Sometimes, the relationship ends naturally, and you cooperatively arrange the terms of your separation. Other times, things fall apart dramatically, and you battle the terms of your separation out until the last word.
Unfortunately, sometimes one person fails to hold up their end of the agreement, even if things ended amicably. If that happens, you have options for enforcing the divorce order, and the attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, can help. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of continuing education and innovation, led by board-certified family law specialist Mary Ramos. If you live in the Sugar Land, TX, area and need a Sugar Land enforcement of orders attorney, contact us today.
Violating the Decree
Whether you negotiated your decree directly, through attorneys, or at mediation, or you took your case to family court, it is unlikely you or your ex-partner got everything you wanted. Typically, your divorce decree includes provisions covering:
- Child custody,
- Child support,
- Property and debt division, and
- Spousal support.
In circumstances involving family violence, you may also have a protective order.
When someone violates the terms of the order, the right response depends on your unique relationship and history. An enforcement of orders lawyer can help determine the best option, offering their knowledge about legal recourse and relying on your knowledge about your ex-partner. Sometimes, you can resolve the issue by communicating through your attorney. Other times, you need a stronger hand.
Requesting the Court’s Help
If you have unsuccessfully tried to get your ex-partner to comply or they are unlikely to respond to an informal resolution, you can ask the court to step in. Depending on the circumstances, the court can hold your ex-partner in contempt of court. The judge can potentially order your ex-partner to:
- Spend up to six months in jail,
- Pay up to a $500 fine, and
- Cover your attorney fees and court costs.
What you need to file varies based on what portion of the decree you are asking the court to enforce. But most requests for enforcement of a divorce decree are similar. You explain how your ex-partner violated the order, provide evidence, and indicate your ideal resolution.
A non-custodial parent will often owe regular child support payments following a separation. If they fall behind on those payments or refuse to pay, the court can hold them in contempt to enforce their obligation. The court may also be able to garnish the other party’s wages.
Realistically, you will adapt your scheduled time with your children to your and your ex-partner’s lives. Not every little change requires court intervention. But when one parent interferes with the other parent’s right to see their child, especially if they do so repeatedly, you can ask the court to enforce the custody order.
Property and Debt Division
Texas is a community property state, meaning assets and debts acquired during marriage are typically shared between the spouses. If your ex-partner refuses to deliver personal items or vacate property you have the right to occupy, you can request the court enforce the order. You must file within two years of the date the order dividing property was entered.
When one partner earns significantly less than the other, the decree may include provisions for spousal support payments. If the party who owes the money does not pay, the court can enforce the agreement through contempt or by garnishing the ex-partner’s wages.
If your ex-partner violates a protective order, do not reach out to them. In an emergency, contact the police. Keep a record of any violations and notify the authorities as soon as practicable. Depending on the circumstances, a prosecutor may get involved in a contempt proceeding.
Changing Your Agreement
If you want to deviate from an order in a minor way and your ex-partner is okay with it, you typically can. However, you should seek a written modification for any substantial change, even if you get your ex-partner’s permission before acting. The court will usually approve modifications you and your ex-partner agree on.
If you want to make a change your ex-partner does not agree to, you usually can, except for property division. To modify child custody, child support, or spousal support, you must prove that circumstances have “materially and substantially changed.” Typically, only the person protected by a protective order can request to modify it.
Get Help Enforcing Orders in Sugar Land
When you get through your separation from your ex-partner and they turn around and fail or refuse to comply with the terms of the separation, you may feel at a loss. At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we are passionate about guiding our clients through challenging days to help them achieve stability in their lives. We continuously educate ourselves to ensure we stay on top of developments in the law and are committed to providing excellent service. If you need a Sugar Land enforcement of orders attorney, reach out today.