Judge reviewing a case to determine whether to enforce a court order

How to Enforce a Court Order in Texas & Protect Your Rights

Completing the legal process in a family law dispute should have been the end of the issue. However, sometimes the other party may not comply with the terms of the final order. We know it can be frustrating and oftentimes angering, but Texas law is on your side to protect your rights.

Family court orders are meant to be obeyed. When they are not, you can take steps to compel the other party to hold up their end of the agreement.

That’s why it’s important to know how to enforce a court order in Texas. With this knowledge – and the support of an experienced family law attorney – you can take the appropriate action to restore order.

Types of Court Orders You Can Enforce

Court orders are designed to tell parties what actions they can and cannot take. For example, a child custody order may indicate that the non custodial parent can have visitation during certain hours. And, a divorce case may indicate that one spouse cannot have access to a certain asset.

Disputes typically arise when one party tries to skirt all or some of the requirements outlined in the order. Texas family law cases typically involve several types of court orders that follow the requirements of the Texas Family Code, including:

These orders act as laws dictating the terms of how parties are to act once the orders are signed by a judge. Failure to obey the terms of the order can lead to significant penalties and repercussions.

How to Enforce a Court Order in Texas

There are multiple ways to enforce Texas court orders. The effectiveness of each method depends on the specific circumstances of each case.

Communication with the Violator

In many cases, you can avoid significant time and cost by communicating with the party who has violated the order.

In most but not all cases, an attempt to speak with the violator about their violation is preferred to legal action. However, this does not guarantee its effectiveness. Communication may ultimately result in the other party further entrenching themselves in the violation.

When communicating with the other party, cooler heads always prevail, especially when there is a lot of tension between the parties. Reaching out with a non-accusatory approach – such as by asking for a simple explanation – may bear fruitful results. 


Before utilizing the Texas family court system to handle a violation, you may want to consider mediation. Mediation is a bit more formal than direct communication, but it’s still a step down from going back through the court system.

With a third-party mediator involved, parties may be able to work out an acceptable agreement for the future. You can also save significant time and money by working with a mediator. 

Keep in mind, though, that mediators are neutral third parties whose goal is to bring the parties to an agreement. They are not attorneys who represent your legal interests. That’s why we recommend consulting with a family law attorney beforehand.

Motion for Contempt

If communication solves nothing, you can file a motion for contempt of court. Contempt is defined simply as a failure to obey a court order. 

In the realm of family law, contempt of court charges typically involve a substantial and material violation of a court order. For every order that has been disobeyed, the disobeying party may be charged with one count of contempt of court.

Before being charged, the person in question must be served. After 21 days have passed since the service, a hearing on the matter may take place. 

The hearing is adversarial, with each side presenting evidence of compliance or lack of compliance with the law. The party alleging the disobedience must have evidence to support that claim. For example, if your ex-spouse failed to pay child support for a sustained period of time, you must back up this claim with proof such as your bank statements and deposit records.

If the court finds that a party has failed to comply with the court order, the court may likely fine them. A judge could also send the other person to jail, depending on the severity of the issue. This is true even if the party complies with the disobeyed order that day.

Motion for Enforcement

A motion for enforcement is one party’s request for the court to compel the other party to comply with a court order. Whereas a motion for contempt seeks to punish disobedience, a motion for enforcement seeks to compel compliance.

Additionally, motions for enforcement typically do not lead to jail time or formal charges unless the motion for enforcement is granted and the party still fails to comply. 

Some of the common motions for enforcement that a family law court may order include:

  • Payment of back child support
  • Payment of back spousal support
  • Extra visitation time for the aggrieved parent
  • Denial of visitation – or even completely denied visitation – for the offending party
  • Turning over property awarded in a divorce decree

Motions for enforcement require a high degree of specificity and must include evidence of the alleged violations. Parties bringing such motions should document every instance of the violations listed in their motion as they occur. This evidence will allow the court to make proper decisions to remedy the violation.

Common types of evidence used in cases involving motions for enforcement include:

  • Bank account statements
  • Emails and texts
  • Social media posts
  • Affidavits

Most helpful in these cases are the services of an experienced family law attorney. A seasoned attorney can represent your interests and ensure the proper action is taken.

We recommend working with an attorney to protect your rights and reduce the stress that could result from re-visiting issues you thought were resolved when the original order was initiated.

Safeguard Your Rights Without Delay

An experienced family law attorney is the advocate you need. They can protect your rights and give you the guidance you need to understand how to enforce a court order in Texas. 

Our family law attorneys are ready to go to work to safeguard your rights. We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our offices ​​immediately to determine the right course of action.

You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with an attorney. We look forward to helping you take action against the other party.