As a custodial parent, you may face challenges when it comes to enforcing a court order related to child support or possession and access to your child. Sometimes, non-custodial parents may fail to comply with court orders, leaving you with the burden of ensuring that the orders are enforced.
Fortunately, the Texas Family Code provides a legal remedy for custodial parents who need to enforce a court order. This legal remedy is called a motion for enforcement.
What is a Motion for Enforcement?
A motion for enforcement is a legal document that a custodial parent can file with the court to enforce any provision of a temporary or final order rendered in a suit. The motion can be used to enforce orders related to child support, possession and access to a child, and other provisions of the court order. (Texas Family Code §157.001(a))
If the non-custodial parent fails to comply with a court order, the custodial parent can file a motion for enforcement to bring the non-compliance to the court’s attention. The court can then enforce the order through a contempt order or other appropriate remedies. (Texas Family Code §157.001(b))
What Should be Included in a Motion for Enforcement?
A motion for enforcement should be filed in the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, and should include certain information such as the provision of the order allegedly violated and sought to be enforced, the manner of the non-compliance, and the relief requested by the movant. (Texas Family Code §157.002(a))
In addition, a motion for enforcement can be used in conjunction with other civil or criminal proceedings to enforce a final order. This means that a custodial parent can file a motion for enforcement while also pursuing other legal remedies. (Texas Family Code §157.003)
Time Limitations for Enforcing Court Orders.
It is important to note that there are time limitations for enforcing court orders related to possession and access to a child and child support. The court retains jurisdiction to render a contempt order for failure to comply with the order of possession and access if the motion for enforcement is filed not later than the sixth month after the date the child becomes an adult or on which the right of possession and access terminates under the order or by operation of law. (Texas Family Code §157.004)
The court retains jurisdiction to render a contempt order for failure to comply with the child support order if the motion for enforcement is filed not later than the second anniversary of the date the child becomes an adult or on which the child support obligation terminates under the order or by operation of law. (Texas Family Code §157.005(a))
Affirmative Defenses to a Motion for Enforcement.
In some cases, a respondent may raise affirmative defenses to a motion for enforcement. For example, a respondent may plead that the movant voluntarily relinquished actual possession and control of the child as an affirmative defense to contempt for failure to comply with an order for possession or access to a child. (Texas Family Code §157.007)
An obligor may plead as an affirmative defense in whole or in part to a motion for enforcement of child support that the obligee voluntarily relinquished to the obligor actual possession and control of a child. (Texas Family Code §157.008(a))
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