Child custody agreements are enforceable contracts. When parties sign these contracts, they agree to the terms as written and acknowledge that there will be consequences if they violate those terms.
If your former spouse is not complying with the court-ordered custody agreement as part of your divorce settlement, an Austin child custody enforcement lawyer could help. The law provides remedies for parents who are placed in this unfortunate situation. Our experienced custody attorneys could help you assert your rights.
Taking Legal Action to Enforce a Custody Arrangement
If one co-parent fails to abide by the court’s orders, the other parent may take legal action against them. Any parent pursuing these custody enforcement claims should contact an Austin lawyer before taking any legal steps.
Especially in circumstances in which the custodial parent is limiting visitation access to the other, there are a number of steps one is required to take before filing an enforcement action in court. For example, a parent who believes they have been denied visitation rights must have appeared in person at the place designated for pickup within the court visitation order — even if the co-parent said they would not be there with the child.
The parent who fails to produce their child at the location designated for pickup would be considered to have violated the visitation order. However, the other parent would also be considered to have violated the order if they do not appear at the location, despite what the custodial parent says.
To document that they fulfilled their obligations, the parent seeking to enforce their visitation rights should obtain whatever evidence they can that they satisfied their duties. They can do this by making a purchase nearby and retaining a receipt that shows they were in the nearby vicinity at the correct date and time, or even by requesting that the local police department file an official report.
Motions to Enforce a Visitation Order
Texas Family Code § 157.002 outlines the requirements for what the petitioning co-parent must include in a signed motion to enforce a visitation order:
- Identification of the provision that the other co-parent violated
- Details about the co-parent’s violation of that provision
- A statement of the relief that the movant seeks
If the court finds in favor of the petitioning parent, the other party may face severe consequences. Potential penalties will include being held in contempt, fines, community service, and in some cases, jail time.
Understanding Contempt of Court
Contempt of court comes in two forms. A person might face civil contempt or criminal contempt. Contempt relates to a person failing to follow the court’s orders, thereby disrespecting the court’s authority.
In criminal contempt cases, the individual can face jail time. In civil contempt cases, the court may order a parent to make up the missed visitation or to pay fines for their failure to abide by an order.
Contempt is serious, and a parent seeking to hold the other in contempt need to understand the implications fully. An Austin attorney can counsel an individual regarding the effects of contempt in their child custody enforcement case.
Speak with an Austin Child Custody Enforcement Attorney
Following the custody agreement as written in your divorce settlement is crucial. Unfortunately, as time progresses and life circumstances change, one parent may fail to comply. If your co-parent refuses to act in accordance with the arrangement stipulated within the terms of your divorce, an Austin child custody enforcement lawyer could help you take legal actions that compel them to fulfill their obligations. Call our office today to learn more about your options.