Enforcement and Contempt

| Aug 30, 2010 | Divorce |

In re Parks is a case out of Houston where the father filed a motion for enforcement alleging that the mother had violated the underlying decree regarding the father’s periods of possession with the child on 12 separate occasions.  The trial court held mother in contempt for 5 violations and sentenced her to 180 days of jail for each violation to run concurrently.  

The father pled for make-up visitation and the trial court ordered that father shall have possession of the child “until further order of the court” and set a compliance date.  The mother filed a writ of habeas corpus claiming that the contempt order was void because it effectively modified the parties’ decree by giving custody of the child to the father and she had no notice of this claim and therefore no due process.  The court of appeals agreed, noting that father had not pled for modification and that while the trial court has authority to provide for the child’s car while a parent may be confined, it has no authority to make this for an indefinite period absent proper pleadings and proof.