In England and Wales there are six options are available to you if your ex decides not to pay your maintenance this month. These are:
- Register the Order in a Magistrates' Court –You can only do this if you know where your ex lives. You need to get a form and complete this and send two copies to the Court which granted the Maintenance Order, along with the fee, copy of the Maintenance Order and evidence of non-payment. Your application to register the Order will be reviewed by a District Judge who will decide whether to approve it. The Magistrate's Court will then enforce the Order using the powers it has available.
- Apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order – This will allow your ex-spouse's employer to take your maintenance payments directly from their monthly salary, pay to the Court which will then pay you. You will need to complete a request for an Attachment of Earnings Order form and include your statement of truth, the fee and a copy of the original Maintenance Order. You will probably have to wait for a hearing when the Judge will decide how much your ex should pay. If they do not turn up, the Court can order them to attend or even be arrested and brought to Court.
- A Warrant of Execution – This allows a bailiff to collect the money owed to you from their home or business or to seize goods to sell at auction, but only once the Court Order has been breached and at least one payment has been missed. The amount of money owed has to be more than £600 but less than £5,000. You need to decide whether to issue in the Family Court or the High Court and a specialist Family Solicitor can help you decide which option will give you a better chance of getting your money.
- Third Party Debt Order - This will freeze the money in your ex's bank account and the Court may order payment direct from their account.
- A Judgment Summons – This Order can send your ex to prison for failing to pay. This will only happen where you can prove that they have the money to pay, but are refusing to pay.
- Apply for a decision from the Court - You can request a hearing for the Court to decide how to enforce the Maintenance Order.
These options are unfortunately not particularly quick ways to resolve your missed payments, but once you have taken legal action, you should feel more secure that you will regularly receive what the Court has ordered.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people may have found themselves less able to cover maintenance payments due to a drop in income or loss of employment. For more information on whether they are still liable to cover these costs, see Do I Need to Pay Maintenance if I've Lost My Job because of Coronavirus?