What relief is available when you file an enforcement action for possession and access?

A parent who has been denied possession and access in violation of a court order can obtain several types of relief in an enforcement proceeding.  First, the violating parent can be held in contempt for each violation.  If a parent is held in contempt, that parent can be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail.  In my experience, most judges are hesitant to throw someone in jail for the first offense, but it is a possibility.  It depends a lot on your particular judge.  Some judges are more inclined to throw someone in jail than others.

Another possible option is suspended commitment – community supervision.  This basically means that the violator is put on probation and their sentence is suspended.  If he or she screws up again, her community supervision is revoked and he or she will serve jail time.   Community supervision usually lasts for ten years.  The judge can also order a party found in contempt to pay a fine.  The fine would be payable to the court, not the other party.

In the judge finds that one party has violated the order, the judge can grant additional periods of possession to the non-offending party as “make up” time. The judge can also order the offending party to execute a bond or post security to secure future compliance with the order.

Finally, the court can award attorney’s fees and court costs to the non-offending party.  If the court finds that the enforcement order was necessary to ensure the child’s health or emotional welfare, an award of attorney’s fees and costs can be enforceable by the same means as child support, except for wage withholding.  If you prevail on an enforcement action, it is very likely the judge will award you attorney’s fees and costs.

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