In the majority of cases where a Financial Consent Order has been made by the Court this signifies the end of the process addressing the finances on divorce or dissolution. Unfortunately, in certain situations, one party may refuse to comply with the terms of an Order and you will need to consider the various enforcement options available to you.
If you have obtained a Financial Consent Order setting out how the finances are to be dealt with upon divorce or dissolution, and your ex-spouse or civil partner fails to comply, it is open to you to seek the Court’s assistance to enforce the terms. At the outset it is advisable that you find out if there is a good reason for the non-compliance, for example where one party is required to pay a lump sum in instalments but they have recently been made redundant.
What is the Court’s approach?
Much will depend on what terms of the Financial Consent Order have been breached, but be reassured the Court is able to enforce any Order made. The Court will treat any non-compliance by a party very seriously as it is understood that sometimes one party may seek to frustrate matters by not implementing the terms of the agreement reached.
How to enforce a Financial Consent Order?
An enforcement application will need to be made setting out the term(s) that have been breached. It is always better to take enforcement action as early as possible as any delays can impact upon the likelihood of success.
Below are a few different scenarios and enforcement options:
- Signing documents – where there is an order for the sale or transfer of a property and one party refuses to sign the necessary paperwork, the Court can step in and sign documents on their behalf.
- Attachment of earnings order – where one party has failed to transfer a lump sum or regular maintenance payment to the other, the Court can request that their employer transfer the amount directly from their earned income.
- Charging order – where there is an order requiring one party to pay a sum of money owed to the other, the Court can secure the debt against property owned by the non-complying spouse or civil partner. This means if the property is sold in the future the sum owed will be paid.
- Facilitate the sale of a property – where one party has been ordered to sell a property to release the other from the mortgage or raise a lump sum the Court can order the person occupying the property to move out to help facilitate the sale.
- Committal for breach – in certain serious situations where one party fails to comply with the terms of an order or undertaking (promise to the Court), an application can be made to the Court ordering for them to pay a fine or be committed to prison.
Will the non-complying party be liable for the costs of an enforcement application?
In Family Court proceedings it is usual for each party to pay their own costs, however this position can change in relation to enforcement proceedings. Where it is established that one party has failed to comply with the terms of a Financial Consent Order without good reason, the Court will be more likely to order that they pay the costs you have incurred in enforcing the Order (including any Court fees or legal fees). It is rare for one party to be ordered to pay all of the other party’s costs.
If your ex-spouse or civil partner is not complying with the terms of a Financial Consent Order it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that you can understand fully the options available to you.
How we can help
If things start to go wrong in family life, we know that it can be a difficult and emotional time. To find out more about divorce or separation visit our dedicated family law page, or book a free initial conversation with one of our expert family lawyers. Whatever stage you’re at, we’ll be there to support you through it all.