If you’re involved in a family law dispute in Texas, getting the other party to cooperate can be difficult. In this situation, submitting a motion to compel is often the best solution. But what happens if a motion to compel is ignored?
Let’s unpack the typical Texas court proceedings that pertain to your situation and review your options to get the other party to comply.
Understanding Motions to Compel in Texas
Contentious family law matters often involve gathering evidence in what is known as the discovery process. When the court orders discovery, both sides are given the opportunity to understand the facts and prepare for court. Either party may have discovery responsibilities, which include:
- Producing documents.
- Providing witnesses.
- Answering interrogations.
If one party fails to comply with the discovery requirements, a motion to compel that person may be sought. This document outlines what evidence or testimony the other party refuses to provide and why the court should issue an order to compel. In essence, the motion is a request for the judge to order the other party to comply with the law and provide the necessary information, documents, or testimony.
- Financial documents, including bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns.
- Proof of rental payments or mortgage payments.
- Title deeds or other documents related to real property.
- Medical records pertaining to a child’s health or well-being.
- Cell phone records, emails, or text messages.
- Requests for admissions or interrogatories.
- Expert witness testimony.
- Personal letters.
Why File a Motion to Compel?
By filing a motion to compel, you can ensure that the other party is held accountable for providing the requested information or documents. This step is essential in resolving family law disputes, as these cases often hinge on producing evidence.
For example, spouses in divorce cases may be untruthful about their financial circumstances. The court may require specific documents or information to verify their claims. Filing a motion to compel can ensure this information is eventually submitted so the court can determine a fair division of assets.
In child custody cases, the court may require evidence to determine the best interests of a child. The court will request evidence such as:
- Medical records.
- School transcripts.
- Other documents as requested.
This information can help the court decide which party should have custody of the child or who is better suited to make decisions about their care.
Filing a Motion to Compel
Before filing a motion to compel, you must first work with a family law attorney to provide the other party with written notice of your request and allow them to comply. If they fail to do so, then you may file a motion to compel with the court.
Be sure to keep a record of your attempts to obtain the requested information. This evidence may be required by the court ordering the other party to comply when you submit the motion to compel.
In some cases, the court may require the opposing parties to attend a hearing before ruling on the motion. During this hearing, each side will be given an opportunity to explain their position. The court will then decide whether the motion should be granted or denied. A family law attorney such as myself can help make your case for why the other party should comply.
Other times, the court may decide the motion without holding a hearing. In this situation, the court will review the documents and decide whether to grant or deny the motion. If it is granted, the other party is required to produce documents or respond to requests for information in the given time frame.
Penalties for Ignoring a Motion to Compel
Unfortunately, filing a motion to compel may not always be enough. There could be situations where the other party ignores the motion and fails to cooperate with the court. This situation can be problematic since it can prolong the legal process and make it difficult to get a necessary resolution.
If a motion to compel is ignored in Texas family law, the court may issue sanctions against the other party. The penalty could range from public reprimands to financial penalties, but monetary sanctions are more common. The court may also issue a default judgment in which the party failing to comply with the motion is assumed to be at fault.
The court may also issue an order for the other party to appear and explain why they have not complied with the motion. If that person does not appear – or their reasons for non-compliance are not satisfactory – the court may issue a contempt order.
Contempt of court is a serious offense and can lead to jail time or fines. It is important to remember that the court takes non-compliance seriously and will take appropriate action if the other party fails to respond to a motion to compel.
What Should You Do if a Motion to Compel is Ignored?
If you have filed a motion to compel and the other party is ignoring the motion, it’s vital to take action as soon as possible.
- Keep detailed records of all communication.
- Document all attempts to reach out to the other party.
- Consult with me to review your legal options and help you pursue the best course of action.
An experienced Texas family law attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and protect your interests if the other party fails to comply. I will also be able to assist you in taking further action, such as filing a motion for sanctions from the court.
Ultimately, having legal representation is the best way to protect your interests. When you turn to my law office, I will provide you with dedicated and compassionate legal help to get the outcome you need to move forward with your case.
I currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. If you live in one of these counties, contact me today to learn more about how I can help. I can be reached by phone at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660.
I am here to help you learn more about what happens if a motion to compel is ignored so that we can resolve your situation.