Enforcement & Modification of Orders

Court orders are meant to be complied with by both parties, but sometimes circumstances change that require a modification of the order or a request to the court that the order be enforced. Orders in a case are not written in stone. They can be, and are, frequently modified given the current circumstances or to meet the best interest of the children. Orders regarding children may be in the best interest of those children when they are created. Over time, however, circumstances change and what was a good plan before now no longer works or is harmful to the children.

One parent may stop complying with an order, leading the other parent to seek the court’s help in enforcing it. Changes in a parent’s income or residence, or a child’s needs, can make an existing order no longer practical or in the child’s best interest. In that case, it may be necessary to modify the order to work for the current circumstances.

Motions to enforce or modify a family court order in Texas are highly fact-dependent. At Sadler Family Law, we strategically present to the court the information the judge needs to rule in our clients’ favor.

Modification of Texas Family Court Orders

Life changes, and this is especially true when you have children. If those changes mean an existing court order no longer fits the needs of your family, it is important to be proactive. Don’t simply fail to comply with the order; seek a modification.

Texas courts must balance two competing interests: the need for stability and predictability, and the need for flexibility as families’ needs change. Accordingly, Texas courts will modify support and custody orders if appropriate, but discourage frequent and unwarranted requests for modification. The most common reason for a modification is that there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the previous order.

It is often possible to obtain a modification of a Texas family court order if both parties agree to the change. Attorney James P. Sadler is a skilled negotiator who can help you to work with the other party in your case to reach agreement. Sometimes a negotiated resolution is simply not possible, and you will need an experienced litigator to handle the matter. James P. Sadler has an extensive litigation background and is well-equipped to argue for your position in court if necessary.

Enforcement of Texas Family Court Orders

Court orders exist so that all parties to a legal matter will understand their rights and responsibilities. When one party fails to fulfill their duties under an order, it interferes with the rights of the other party. If one parent fails to pay child support, the other parent may not be able to provide necessities for the child. When a parent with whom a child lives refuses to allow the other parent access to the child, the child’s relationship with one or both parents may suffer.

It is usually preferable for parents to work out these issues without needing to involve the courts, but sometimes legal action is the only thing that will achieve compliance. You may need to seek help to enforce a Texas family court order if:

  • You are not receiving child support from the other parent as ordered
  • Your ex-spouse fails or refuses to pay spousal maintenance as ordered, or to pay health or life insurance premiums per court order
  • Your co–parent is not abiding by the court-ordered access (visitation) schedule
  • Your ex-spouse is withholding property awarded to you in your divorce, or otherwise failing to comply with financial obligations that are their responsibility under the divorce decree

Sometimes, just knowing that you have retained an attorney to enforce your rights is enough to motivate the other party to comply. Other times, the attorney may have to file a motion with the court to compel the other party’s compliance. At Sadler Family Law, we can evaluate the facts of your situation and let you know if it is appropriate to file a motion for enforcement; if it is, we can advise you regarding the likely outcome.

If the court finds that one party is violating the terms of the divorce decree or order, it may find that party in contempt. The party in contempt of the order may have to pay fines, court costs, and the other party’s attorney fees incurred in seeking enforcement. The court may order counseling to address issues that led to noncompliance with the order. In some cases, the court may send the non-compliant party to jail, or impose a suspended jail sentence to motivate compliance.

Whether someone is seeking to enforce an order against you, or you need to enforce a Texas family court order, you need skilled representation to protect your interests.

Family law attorney James P. Sadler represents people involved in divorces, child custody disputes, and other family law matters in San Angelo and throughout West Texas. He advocates for his clients’ rights and interests both in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. We invite you to contact Sadler Family Law online or at (325) 227-6738 to schedule a confidential office consultation.