Enforcing a Financial Order in Divorce

24 April 2017

Following divorce proceedings, there are two main types of Court Order that can be enforced: those relating to financial matters and those relating to child-care arrangements.

Financial Orders in Divorce

When people get a divorce it’s always advisable that they obtain a Financial Order which is approved by the Court. A Financial Order sets out the financial arrangements that you and your ex have made and makes them legally binding.

However there are times when a Financial Order is made but one person does not comply with it. When this happens the other person can make an application to the Court to enforce the Financial Order. If such an application is to be made, it’s always advisable to get legal advice, as consideration needs to be given as to which part of the Order the Court needs to enforce and also the legal procedure which needs to be followed.

If a mandatory part of a Court Order has not been complied with, then the Court can direct that another person carries it out instead, such as the person applying to Court or someone else that the Court will appoint. For example, if one person refuses to sign the transfer document to allow a property to be sold, the Court can order that the document is signed by someone else. The Court can also demand that the cost of this action be paid by the person who disobeyed the original Court Order.

If an application is made to the Court to enforce an Order for payment of money, the Court may ask the debtor to attend Court and provide evidence as to why the money has not been paid. The debtor could be asked to provide answers under oath, and if they do not attend Court he/she could be sent to prison for contempt of Court.

If someone does make an application to enforce a Financial Order, it’s always mindful to consider that the cost of legal action may be recovered from the other person, and interest could also be payable on sums of money that have not been paid.

Child Arrangement Orders

A Child Arrangement Order is a Court Order which sets out the arrangements for children following divorce, and include Orders about which parent the children live with, and how often they spend time with the other parent.

If one parent does not comply with the Child Arrangement Order then the other parent can apply to the Court for the Order to be enforced. When considering the application for enforcement, the Court will prioritise the welfare of the children involved. The Court’s aim is to establish, maintain and improve the involvement of the parent in the life of the children. Therefore enforcement of Court Orders relating to children can be more problematic.

If an application to enforce a Court Order is made, the parent applying can ask the Court to make an Order requiring the other parent to:

  • Engage in between 40 and 200 hours of unpaid work
  • Transfer residence of the children
  • Pay compensation
  • Be committed to prison
  • Meet conditions to engage in activities with the children

Other types of Court Orders available in England & Wales include:

  • Clean Break Orders / Consent Orders
  • Maintenance Pending Suit
  • Legal Services Order
  • Occupation Order
  • Legal Charge

For brief explanations of these Orders see Divorce Court Orders.

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