In Texas, a motion for enforcement may be filed to enforce a divorce decree or a child support, child custody or visitation order. In an enforcement action the movant is the person who files the motion and the respondent is the person who has allegedly violated the court’s order.
A party affected by a divorce decree which required the division of property may file a suit to enforce the decree. The party against whom enforcement is sought has a right to receive notice of the suit and must file a written answer.
An order to enforce the division of property is limited to an order to assist in the implementation of or clarification of the prior order and may not alter or change the substantive division of property. If an order amends, modifies, alters, or changes the actual, substantive division of property made or approved in a final decree of divorce or annulment, it is typically unenforceable.
If a party fails to deliver property pursuant to a decree of divorce or annulment and delivery of property awarded in the decree is no longer an adequate remedy, the court may order a money judgment for the damages against the party who failed to comply with the decree. If a party did not receive payments of money as awarded in the decree of divorce or annulment, the court may render judgment against the defaulting party in the amount of unpaid payments. In addition to a money judgment, all other relief available under the law may be sought against the defaulting party. Since Texas does have debtor’s prisons, one should note that jail is only an option when the party in violation of the order has failed to pay child support or spousal maintenance (and had the ability to make those payments), not for failure to turn over property ordered in the divorce.
The contents of your divorce decree will need to be reviewed to determine whether your decree is specific enough to be enforced and what options (remedies) are available to get your property award or ordered payment. For instance, thoughtful attorneys will secure payments of money in a divorce against an asset the paying party is receiving, such as a home, so if that party does not pay, the person seeking to enforce the payment can take legal possession of the home awarded to the non-paying party to have it sold to satisfy the amount they are owed.
Contact the attorneys at the Skillern Firm to schedule a consultation to discuss your enforcement issue.