What is Contempt in Texas?
If you have ever been through a family court proceeding, it most likely ended with a court order. Contempt proceedings are how courts in Texas enforce their orders.
It is a powerful tool the court can use to punish the individual or incentivize them to comply with its mandate.
Typical orders that the court will hold you in contempt for include:
• Child support,
• Property division, and
In addition, the court can hold you in contempt for acting inappropriately in court. For example, if you curse at the judge or physically assault your spouse or their attorney during a proceeding, you could be held in contempt.
How Do You Get a Contempt Order Against Your Ex-Spouse or Co-Parent in Tarrant County?
If your ex-spouse or co-parent is not following a court order in Texas, the first step is to reach out to the individual directly or have your attorney reach out. If attempts to resolve the issue out of court fail, you can ask the court to hold the disobeying party in contempt.
You must file a Motion for Contempt or a Motion for Enforcement with the court and serve a copy of the motion on the other party. The motion must clearly state the part of the order that was violated and the punishment requested. The court will then set a date and time for a contempt hearing.
At the hearing, both parties will be allowed to argue their case. You can present evidence to support your argument, including testimony, photographs, receipts, or police reports.
A common reason contempt hearings fail in Tarrant County is that there are problems with the original order. For a judge to hold someone in contempt, the written order that they violated must be clear, specific, and unambiguous. The order cannot be susceptible to multiple meanings. For example, if the order requires the person to pay child support, it must state the exact dates support is due, the specific amount of support, and where payments are to be delivered. It is always in your best interest to work with an attorney to ensure that orders are written correctly and allow no wiggle room.
What Happens if You Do Not Show Up to a Contempt Hearing in Tarrant County?
If you have an upcoming contempt hearing in Tarrant County, you must take it seriously. If you do not show up, the court may issue a capias (sometimes referred to as a bench warrant) for your arrest. The capias gives police the right to arrest you and bring you in for the hearing. Avoiding a contempt hearing will not make the issue go away; it will only make the situation worse.
What Happens When You Are Found in Contempt of Court in Tarrant County?
There are two types of contempt in Tarrant County: civil and criminal. If you are held in criminal contempt, the consequences include fines and jail time.
If you are in civil contempt, you could be facing a variety of consequences, some of which include:
• Jail time until you perform specific obligations (e.g., paying past-due child support);
• Money judgments;
• Liens on real or personal property;
• Income withholding;
• Additional time with the child to make-up for missed exchanges;
• Suspension of driver and professional licenses;
• Payment of attorney’s fees; and
• Community supervision.
During community supervision (“probation”), the court may require you to participate in different groups, such as budget management training, employment assistance services, or drug and alcohol treatment.
In Texas, you cannot be jailed for violating an order requiring you to pay a debt. This means that if your divorce order required you to pay the marital debt and you failed to do so, you cannot be jailed for this reason. Child support, spousal maintenance, and attorney’s fees are exceptions to this rule.
Do You Need an Attorney to Request or Defend Against a Contempt Order in Tarrant County?
It is in your best interest to have an experienced family law attorney on your side during a contempt hearing. Motions for contempt are one of the most precise documents that are filed in family law. An attorney will advocate on your behalf and ensure that all technicalities are met.
The Law Office Of Craig S. Michalk provides experienced legal counsel in all areas of family law; including divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, adoptions, modifications, enforcements, and name changes.
Your initial consultation is free, so call us today to schedule an appointment at our Bedford, Texas office. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss and assist you with your family law legal matter.
Frank Lloyd Wright