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Enforcement of Family Orders

Bradford based Family Law solicitor, Harjit Rait, reviews the recommendations put forward to ensure compliance for the enforcement of family orders.

Ok, so you've been to Court (and quite possibly Hell and back too) and you've got an order from the Court.

Perhaps, it was a Matrimonial Order following a divorce and your spouse has been ordered to put the former family home on the market. Or maybe it was a dispute with your former partner who has been ordered to pay you a lump sum. But now, your ex-partner won't play ball and put that house on the market, or pay the lump sum - what should you do next?

Fortunately there are enforcement rules that a party can use to ensure compliance but the process is not straight forward. The rules regarding enforcement are complex and there is no guarantee that you will be able to enforce your order effectively or efficiently.

Luckily, this issue has not gone unnoticed and in December 2016, the Law Commission published The Enforcement of Family Financial Orders report.

The Commission has highlighted some specific areas for improvement within this area of the law.

It now recommends some keys changes with the idea of de-mystifying some of the complexity that surrounds the enforcement rules. These include:

  • More guidance for litigants including information to be printed on the back of Family Financial Orders, along with a guide to enforcement;
  • A requirement for the debtor to provide early disclosure of their financial circumstances, as well as a financial statement to be disclosed;
  • Giving the Court more power to obtain information on finances from third parties and ability to make "coercive orders" against people who have the ability to pay but refuse to - such as disqualification from driving until the debt is paid;
  • Extending current methods of enforcement against assets that the current rules do not allow enforcement over such as pensions, or money in joint accounts.

It's unfortunate that the problem of enforcement has led to the Commission having to reconsider the possibility of more draconian enforcement measures but that is the current reality. It is hoped, however, that the recommendations will create a more effective enforcement system which ensures that both a creditor and a debtor are treated fairly.

If these recommendations are adopted, the consequences of failure to adhere to the terms of a Family Financial Order will become more far reaching.

Imagine being banned from driving, in effect, because of an outstanding matrimonial matter.

For advice on Family Financial Orders and enforcement action, please contact Harjit Rait on 01274 386 598 or ku.oc1718417620.fcl@1718417620tiarh1718417620


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