After going through a divorce in Texas, you may find yourself in a situation where your ex-spouse is not following the terms of the divorce decree. I know that it can be frustrating and stressful, but there are ways to enforce the terms of the divorce.
The best tool in your toolbox is filing a motion to enforce the divorce decree. While this might sound daunting, it’s the ideal path to compel your former spouse to uphold their end of the bargain. Let’s dive into how the enforcement process works and how I can help you out.
What Is a Motion to Enforce a Divorce Order?
The divorce decree is a court order that outlines the terms of your divorce, and it is binding on both parties. Your ex-spouse is legally obligated to follow the terms of the divorce decree, just as you are. The terms outlined in the decree may include things such as:
- Child custody
- Alimony (known as spousal maintenance in Texas)
- Division of assets
If your former spouse fails to comply with the terms of the divorce decree, you can file a motion to enforce the original order. This is a legal document petitioning the court to act on your behalf to compel your ex-spouse to act according to the language of the order. Doing so can help you get the relief you need and ensure that your ex-spouse is held accountable for their actions.
Reasons to File an Enforcement Motion
There are many reasons why you might need to file a motion to enforce your divorce decree, and they depend on the unique terms of your divorce order. For example, you can file a motion to enforce if your ex-spouse is not paying child support. Or, if your ex-spouse is not following the visitation schedule, you can use this motion to request that the court order them to do so.
Other reasons you might need to file an enforcement motion include:
- Not following the property division terms outlined in the divorce decree.
- Not following the child custody arrangement.
- Interfering with your parental time or rights.
- Using assets that belong to you.
These are just a few examples; there are many other situations where a motion to enforce may be appropriate. If you are unsure whether or not you need to file a motion to enforce, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney such as myself, who can review your situation and help you decide the best course of action.
How to File a Motion to Enforce a Divorce Decree
The Texas Family Code allows a person in a divorce suit to file a motion to enforce a divorce order in the court where the original decree was established. To file this motion, you will need to pinpoint the specific provisions of the divorce decree that your ex-spouse is not following.
You will want to gather as much evidence as you can to support your claims. I recommend collecting the following documentation:
- Financial records.
- Bank statements.
- Text messages.
- Time stamps that prove your ex-spouse’s non-compliance.
- Other types of documentation.
You will then need to file a motion with the clerk of courts in the county where the divorce was finalized – along with your evidence and a copy of the original divorce decree. If you choose to work with me as your attorney, I can help you with this step. Once the motion is filed, your ex-spouse will be served with notice of the motion and given a chance to respond.
What Happens After Filing a Motion to Enforce a Divorce Decree?
Once an enforcement motion is filed, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, both you and your ex-spouse will have a chance to present evidence and make your case. Yes, your ex-spouse will be able to present counterevidence, which is why it’s important to work with an attorney to defend your position. The judge will then decide whether or not to grant the motion to enforce.
If the judge grants the motion, your ex-spouse will be forced to comply with the terms of the divorce decree. For instance, the court may order your ex-spouse to pay outstanding child support or spousal support payments (back pay). Or, they may order your ex-spouse to follow the visitation schedule – or risk further penalties such as a substantial fine.
If your spouse fails to comply with the court’s order a second time, they may be held in contempt of court. This process begins with filing a motion for contempt. If the judge finds your ex-spouse in contempt, they may order them to pay a heftier fine or serve jail time.
Find Help From a Seasoned Family Law Attorney
Filing a motion to enforce a divorce decree can be complicated; you must meet strict deadlines and follow specific procedures. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process and give you the best chance of success.
When you turn to my law office, I will handle every aspect of your case so you can focus on building your new life. I have experience providing expert legal advice and advocacy in various types of divorce cases, including those requiring a motion to enforce the original order.
Even if you went through a different divorce attorney for the original divorce, I can still help you with the enforcement process.
I currently help individuals in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. If you live in one of these counties, contact me today for a consultation. Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your situation. I look forward to helping you enforce a divorce order.