What Are the Enforcement Remedies in Texas Family Court?


People don’t have the option to decide if they will, or will not, follow judgments given from a court of family law. Enforcement involves issues of case law, statutory interpretation, criminal law, and procedural law. Learn more about the enforcement remedies available in accordance with family law court orders.

Start with the Original Order

Language must be clear and specific in the original order, and should only allow for a single interpretation, meaning these orders can then be enforced. A motion to enforce can be filed for such actions as a final order for child support, conservatorship, access to or possession of a child, division of property, or spousal maintenance. Punishment requested should be included in the motion to enforce, which may include incarceration or applicable fines. Be aware that it must be clear that the court has jurisdiction to render an order of contempt.

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Enforcement Remedies for Child Support

Texas family courts have a range of options, including:

  • Income withholding: The court may withhold income from the obligor’s paycheck in an amount that will pay off debts in arrears. The arrear must be within a two-year time span. Other payment arrangements may be arranged when obligors are self-employed, or not subject to a wage withholding. An obligee can also request that a bond be posted by the obligor to ensure compliance.
  • Child support lien: This lien is subject to requirements in Section 157.312 of the Texas Family code. A lien will be placed against real or personal property for any amount of child support found due, including interest.
  • Suspension of license: An obligor that has not paid child support for a period of 90 days, can be subject to a suspension of their license. An obligee or child support agency can file the petition and issue a notice to the obligor. Licenses that may be suspended include a driver’s license, pharmacy, plumbing, nurses, doctors, barbers, and more.

Enforcement Remedies for Property Division

Examples of available family court remedies include:

  • Clarification order: When the terms of the original order are not specific or clear enough to be enforceable, this remedy will set forth terms to enforce compliance with the originally stated division of property. The court or any party may request this order. A reasonable period for compliance must first be given prior to enforcement of a clarification order through any remedy.
  • Delivery of property: This is an order to deliver existing property awarded, a sum of money or an equivalent, to a party.

Some Orders Are Not Enforceable by Contempt

A contractual remedy may be sought in cases when contempt does not apply. A contractual remedy helps parties abide by the terms of the agreed decree. The summary of remedies provided are only a few at the court’s disposal. Discuss all options available with an experienced family law attorney to enforce an applicable family court order.