Your Kids Deserve Two Parents Who Try
What can you do if the other parent doesn’t follow a court’s order?
What if they don’t try? If they get in the way of you doing your job as parent? If they don’t even bring your children back to you?
You went to court thinking that things might get better, but the order didn’t change your ex. You’re still fighting the same fights, and you know you need a process with some teeth if things are going to change.
You need an enforcement.
How Do I Enforce A Court’s Order?
When you’re a co-parent, a custody order doesn’t end the conversation. Year after year, you’ll have to interact with a co-parent as you attempt to raise your healthy child. Texas family law gives you an option to clean up the messes.
That option is called an enforcement. Once an order is entered, the issuing court maintains some control over the parent-child relationship. We call this “continuing exclusive jurisdiction,” and it empowers the court to get back involved in your situation when it becomes necessary.
To get the court involved again, you’ll need to file an enforcement action. You’ll list the parts of the order that the other parent violated, as well as details about what happened.
The court will review your story in contested hearings, with the witnesses or evidence that are needed to show what rules the other party broke.
Maybe the other party didn’t pay child support, or didn’t inform you about medical issues, or failed to return the child to you after visitation… any violation of the court order can lead to an enforcement action.
The key to any enforcement action is to prove that the other party broke a rule, and that you and your child suffered because of it. The court will always seek the best interest of the child, and a good order has to be enforced in order to be useful.
If parents can just violate orders at will, you’ll never had a KidFirst scenario. And that’s why we help parents like you use enforcements to get everyone to honor the court’s orders.
You Need A Different Kind of Guide
Lawyers are not all the same. We’re human beings. We bring our personalities, perspectives, and priorities to the job. Even good lawyers disagree about what matters in an enforcement case.
Our priority is clear: we protect your kids.
That may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Our ethical responsibilities require us to put our clients first. Your children will not be our clients, you will. But we never work with parents who won’t put their children first. With that standard, we know that protecting your children means we are also protecting you.
Our method is simple: KidFirst Decision Making.
Using KidFirst Decision Making, we obsessively work to reduce drama. That leads to reduced costs, reasonable timeframes, and – most importantly – healthier children.
If you are a KidFirst parent, you can feel confident that you’ve found the right firm to help guide your family through this difficult time.
It Begins With Our Founding Attorney
Angela Faye Brown is definitely a unique lawyer. Long before considering law school, Angela cared about how law and policy impact kids.
She earned two public policy degrees from the University of Texas at Austin before returning to law school at U.T. During law school, she took up children’s issues as student counsel in the Children’s Rights Clinic.
Under the supervision of such legal luminaries as Jack Sampson (he literally wrote the book on Texas family law), Angela represented children who’d been removed from their homes in Child Protective Services cases. These children showed Angela the courage, confusion, and concern found inside every child in trouble.
Now, as a new mother herself, Angela appreciates the importance of the parent child relationship in a special way. It’s natural for a parent to shield children from unnecessary harm, and she gets why you want that so much. Angela’s experience and priorities make her a uniquely qualified guide for you and your family.
The Path You’re On
An enforcement is one of several paths families can take that require KidFirst Decision Making. It is an inherently combative process – you’re asking the court to discipline a co-parent who’s not following the rules – but the children must always be the priority. Here’s a simple outline of the KidFirst enforcement process:
- KidFirst Strategy Session: Every new client receives a Strategy Session with the firm. These are more than just meet and greets with your attorney. You’ll walk out with a plan, a look into potential responses from the other side and the best answers, and a budget. You’ll get the information needed to make good choices.
- New Client Welcome: All new clients will receive in-depth instruction from the firm on what to expect as your case moves forward. We will educate you on the issues you’ll face, the decisions you’ll need to make, and the roadblocks to look out for. We’ll also help you identify which issues are best solved through the law and which require specialized expertise outside the firm. We’ll connect you with qualified providers to help you on this journey.
- Expert Drafting: Enforcement actions begin with quality drafting. Your motion for enforcement must lay out a clear case for the judge. A properly crafted petition begins a narrative that will unfold throughout your case. It is a document that protects you and puts the other party on notice.
- Temporary Orders: Many enforcement actions, particularly those that are combined with a request to modify the old order, begin with a quick intervention called a temporary orders hearing. This is a contested court visit, a sort of mini trial. It sets the rules for the litigation and orders the parties to reveal certain information. The hearing allows you to take control early and not let the other party dictate terms. Temporary orders give you defined powers and responsibilities.
- Discovery: If you’ve ever seen a lawyer show, you’ve seen someone drop a big box of papers on a courthouse table. Those documents come through a process called discovery. It’s a tool that allows the parties to see the other side’s hand and begin to formulate a plan. Not every case requires full discovery, which can become quite expensive, so we use only the levels of discovery needed to make informed decisions.
- Settlement Conference/Negotiations: During this phase, we engage in informal negotiations for you. We exchange proposals with the other side in an attempt to focus the issues. It’s common in enforcement cases for lawyers to stir up trouble by overcomplicating the negotiation process. We’ve handled so many agreements that we know how to get you what you want without letting the fog of war throw us off track.
- Mediation: A mediation is a way for parties to negotiate more formally with the help of a neutral third party. They often take a full day, but can cover every issue that remains after informal negotiations. We will prepare for mediation with an eye to resolution. If a case closes at mediation with an agreement, you could avoid significant litigation fees. Studies show that mediation participants are also more likely to follow a court’s order, helping you avoid years of drama in the future.
- Agreed Divorce Decree: If informal negotiations or the mediation work, we’ll have the outline of an agreement. Your lawyer team will then turn those few pages into an effective, enforceable decree with a long-term view. We want you to avoid future fights, and a properly drafted and entered decree helps you do that.
Nearly every divorce case follows this 8-step path. Because we know how that path usually unfolds, we can give you helpful estimates of timeframes and budgets. If things don’t go as planned, however, our billing structure will allow you to move forward with more intense litigation. We’ll have gathered the information needed to tell your story well before the court.
- Litigation Phase: Some cases require a court to finish. We cannot fully control whether this happens because we can’t control the other side, but the steps we’ll have taken before in drafting, discovery, and negotiations will help limit the drama. Be assured that KidFirst Decision Making will continue to inform how we work during the Litigation Phase. We won’t push you into more fight than you need to take care of your children.
Always Choose For Your Children (We Do)
Now you have to make a decision. You have to trust someone. You have to invest that trust, which has both personal and financial implications, in an attorney who will guide you on this journey.
What will you choose?
If you believe you can be a KidFirst parent, we’d like to talk to you. We can’t tell you that contacting us means you qualify for our services. We don’t take every prospective client that wishes to hire us. We take only KidFirst parents. Is that you?
Avoid The Drama, Win For Your Kids
We don’t know yet what “winning” means for you. It could be a matter of custody, child support, property division, or just freedom. Whatever your reason to stand up for yourself before a court, we want to stand up with you.
The KidFirst Divorce Strategy Session is your next step, but it’s not your final step. At the end of this journey, you will know your definition of success and you will be closer to it. You’ll have more independence, personal power, and peace for your children.
If these things motivate you – if you are ready to discover what KidFirst Decision Making means for you – schedule a session with us now.
(Before you go, check out the form on the right side of this page. It’s for people who aren’t yet ready to talk to an attorney about their divorce roadmap. We’ll give you a list of 5 simple tips to keep your kids safe and protected RIGHT NOW. So go get that list, and we’ll talk more later.)