How to Prepare For and Win on an Enforcement Case in Texas Family Court


An enforcement case is implemented when one party of a divorced couple has violated one or more decrees of the court. In this case, the party in error may be charged for contempt.

This is the basic premise of an enforcement case, but it is more complex than that. If you are planning to file and win an enforcement case in a Texas family court, these are the things you must observe:

  1. The rule or decree that your ex-spouse has violated should be clearly stated in writing at the final decrees. Any violation of an agreement that is not stated in writing can be brought to the judge. You probably would not get the punishment that is reserved for contempt (jail time or penalties).
  2. It is not as simple as calling out your ex-spouse. Lawyers would advise that you carefully build an ironclad case against your ex-spouse right from the beginning. Enforcement cases are very delicate when evaluating the accusation. There should be seamless details as your opponent will always try to poke holes in your case.
  3. You may file an enforcement case even during the divorce proceedings. While temporary orders are only implemented during the time of your divorce proceedings, they are also official orders. The only caveat is that most of the time, the details of the temporary orders are not extensively stated. That would hurt the case.

Enforcement Cases in Practice

The purpose of an enforcement case is for the judge to use the force of law to make your ex-spouse follow the rules in the final decrees. Thus, it is important to be specific and detailed.

For example, if it is decreed your ex-spouse should bring your child to your home on Sunday, there should be a specific time (and place if it’s not in the home). If you just say “Sunday” or “Sunday after lunch” then they can bring your child late at night. They can argue that they are not violating any rules.

This is why it is always advisable to have a lawyer to aid you in your divorce proceedings, all the way to drafting the final decrees. In the same way, building a case for enforcement should be complete with which rule they violated, or how and why it is considered a violation.

Just like in other cases, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Lawyers should be able to know what sticks in enforcement cases, and what can easily be disproved.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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