Enforcing the Obligations in a Divorce Decree
In this video podcast episode, Dallas area divorce attorney Mark L. Scroggins talks about post-divorce decree enforcement and modifications, and what people can learn about the issues and the process. If you were awarded something in the divorce decree and have not received the thing, or the thing has not been done, you have a remedy for that in an enforcement action. If it is necessary to have the language clarified if there is any ambiguity, that can also be done.
A divorce decree, insofar as it controls on child support and child custody matters, is a living and breathing document that needs to be modified as things change. Of course, the standard is always the best interests of the child. Decrees are subject to modification when there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. A significant impairment standard applies to child custody orders to be modified within one year of entry; that impairment being to the child?s physical or emotional well being.
Enforcement actions come up with property division when the parties are supposed to take care of things on their own. For example, when stock options and grants are at issue, the person who has the obligation might fail to act, causing problems for the other party. Mark explains scenarios highlighting different enforcement options.
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Call Mark L. Scroggins at Scroggins Law Group at (214) 469-3100. Scroggins Law Group has Office Locations in Frisco, Dallas, and Plano, Texas. The Scroggins Law Group Team Represents Families in Dallas, Collin, and Denton Counties.
Enforcing and Modifying Child Support Obligations
If someone is not paying child support and is more than 30 days behind, the child support obligation can be enforced by finding the nonpaying parent in contempt. Contempt punishments can include jail time. There are affirmative defenses of not having the ability to pay. If you lost a high paying job and lost that job, there are ways to modify the amount of the obligation. Similarly, if the child support recipient knows the other parent has a great new job and pay increase, the obligation can be increased.
Unless there has been a subsequent order modifying your child support obligation, an arrearage will accrue and that can lead to a contempt charge for failure to pay child support. So if you know you cannot meet your child support obligation, you need to hire someone to modify your child support obligation.
Mark explains that if you are paying guideline amounts of child support and you say you cannot afford that amount, you are going to have a difficult time getting a modification. If however, you or your former spouse has a game-changing new job or the change in income is substantial it makes sense to change the child support obligation.?It is important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer for post-divorce decree enforcement and modifications.
Modifying Possession and Conservatorship
Divorce decrees and Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship SAPCR orders are living, breathing documents that can be modified as necessary to meet the needs and best interests of the child. The courts and legislatures recognize that what works at age six, may not work at age 16 because things change. The rights and duties of parents as conservators can change as well as possession schedules can change.
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Modifications often arise when someone wants to flip things. First, understand that there is a presumption in Texas that both parents should be named joint managing conservators regarding rights and duties as parents. Typically one parent will be given the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the children. There are all kinds of advantages of being the parent with the right to determine residence so this is often something people want if they can get it.
The other piece of custody as Mark explains in the video podcast is possession and access. He explains how the minimum amount of time a non-primary parent has is set forth in a Standard Possession Order, and there is also an Expanded Standard Possession Order with more time for the non-primary parent. For whatever reason, such as the age of the children and their schedules, the 50/50 possession schedule makes more sense. Or, what if the other parent is not doing well, you can seek to change which parent is primary and whether one should be the sole managing conservator because the other parent has drug or alcohol problems not being addressed.
Mark also talks about the role of step-parents in this video podcast, because there are all kinds of ways that blending families can be good and other ways they can be challenging and destructive.
Mark talks about the challenges families face and the pathways to different rights and options in family court. He stresses the importance of finding the best lawyer you can, who has the experience necessary to navigate a challenging custody issue.?It is important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer for post-divorce decree enforcement and modifications.
Attorneys Fees in Modification and Enforcement
In modifications, unless one of the parties is a very bad actor, it is difficult to get attorneys fees. In enforcement cases, however, if you succeed, you get attorneys fees because you are seeking to enforce a bad actor to satisfy their duties and obligations.
If you succeed in your enforcement you are going to get attorney fees, at least some, and sometimes all the attorney’s fees you paid. How strong was your case? How well are the attorney’s fees argued, as to why the fees and work were required. Mark explains that statutes and case law control the factors that must be addressed when seeking attorney fees for enforcement cases.
Call Scroggins Law Group When You Need Help with Post Divorce Decree Enforcement and Modifications (214) 469-3100, with Offices in Frisco, Dallas, and Plano, Texas
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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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