When one party doesn’t comply with a court order, or a portion of a court order, it may be necessary to file an enforcement action to force that party to comply. A suit for enforcement may be filed in the court that issued temporary orders, the original divorce decree, or other final order. Enforcements are often filed for the enforcement of child support, spousal maintenance, possession and access to a child, property division, or delivery of property.
Once a hearing is held on an enforcement motion, the court will decide whether or not the responding party was in violation of the order pursuant to the violations alleged in the movant’s motion. If the court finds that the responding party violated the order as alleged (whether in part or in full), that party could face serious consequences. The court could also hold that party in contempt. Contempt simply means that the court finds, after reviewing the evidence, that the responding party violated the court order one or more times. If contempt is found, and depending on the severity of non-compliance, a court may award the movant attorney’s fees and/or impose fines, penalties, community supervision, or even jail time due to the responding party’s non-compliance of the court order.
Texas courts take violations of court orders very seriously and often times family courts see the same cases in their courts time and time again. A party’s non-compliance with a court order can potentially have long-term effects. While a court cannot change conservatorship or possession at an enforcement hearing, should a movant file a subsequent modification action in the future related to the responding party’s continuous bad acts or non-compliance, obtaining a favorable enforcement ruling may be an indirect result of a change in conservatorship and possession in the modification action.