How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinions on Motions for Enforcement of Child Support Orders

The obligor parent hasn’t been paying the monthly child support as they were court ordered, and you want to go after them for it. So, you hire an attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. in Forney and they file one of these handy motions on your behalf.

In doing so, the attorney will seek jail time, most commonly referred to as contempt, for the obligor parent because in Texas, the legislature doesn’t like it when parents don’t make their child support payments. However, the obligor parent may no longer be thrown in jail, much to your dismay.

That is, the appellate courts have provided a little incentive for an obligor parent facing one of these motions–just pay the arrearages pled for in the motion before trial, and you won’t go to jail. The courts will now look to the pleadings, not what the arrearages would be on the date of the enforcement hearing. That is–even if the obligor parent is still behind when it comes to the hearing date, if he/she is current on what you pled for in the motion, then they can’t be jailed at the time of the hearing.

So, contempt is time sensitive according to the 2nd District Fort Worth Court of Appeals in that jail time can only be ordered for what’s in the pleadings at the time the motion or amended motion is filed. So, this means you can no longer say, well they haven’t paid this much so surely they won’t pay these additional months. It has to be actually pled–amend the motion before the hearing to include the additional violations to ensure that contempt is a remedy that can still be sought.