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Contempt of Family Court

family law book and gavel

It can be very frustrating for someone to obtain a divorce, only for their former spouse to disobey a court order. Such failures may involve not letting the other parent see their children during their court-ordered visitation, the refusal to pay child support, or the failure to pay off specified debts according to the divorce agreement.

If you are in this situation and your former spouse has failed to follow a court order, a contempt order could motivate him or her to adhere to the original order, mainly because of the threat of going to jail. Here is some information on enforcing orders from the family court in Katy, Cypress and throughout the state.

Which Orders Can Be Enforced?

To “enforce” a family court order means to force someone to obey an order from the family court. In Texas, different court orders can be enforced as long as they deal with family law issues, including:

  • Orders for child support
  • Orders for child custody and visitation
  • Orders involving property division in a divorce
  • Orders regarding spousal support in a divorce

“How is a family court order enforced in Texas?” Usually, if someone has refused to obey a court order, it will be enforced through a contempt proceeding. If the court finds the individual to be “in contempt,” the judge can sentence the person to jail or order them to pay a fine, or both.

Suppose you are accused of disobeying a court order. “If I am found in contempt, will I be sent to jail?” It depends. If you are employed and you are in contempt for failing to pay child support or spousal support, sentencing you to jail may be counterproductive. If you are sent to jail, you could lose your job and therefore, it would be even more difficult for you to obey the court order.

Alternatives to Jail for Contempt

Instead of imposing a jail sentence, the judge may impose certain conditions; for example, you may be required to make specific payments to your former spouse for child support or spousal support. However, there can be other consequences: In some cases, a judge can order the violating party to pay court fees, attorney fees, and a fine. If a jail sentence is suspended and the individual violates the conditions set by the judge, the party will likely be sent to jail.

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