Family Finance Orders are usually made following the end of a marriage or civil partnership and also under Schedule 1 of the Children Act for unmarried parents. The Orders usually require the payment of money or the transfer of property from one party to another. It has been estimated by the Law Commission that 4,200 cases per annum require enforcement of an Order and £15m to £20m goes unpaid every year causing serious hardship to children and dependents.
Most people think that once they have a Financial Order granted in their favour that once the terms of the order are implemented that this will be the end of their matter. However what if one party does not do what they are ordered to do or have agreed to do under the terms of the order? If this happens steps need to be taken to enforce the order by applying back to Court.
The law relating to enforcement of Orders is complex and the Law Commission has researched into ways of simplifying the procedure. A number of recommendations have been made in their report of December 2016. These include coercive measures to be imposed by the Court whereby the party owing money of failing to transfer property would be prevented from travelling for 12 months by taking away their passport or confiscation of their driving licence.
The package of proposals recommended is designed to create an effective and accessible system that is fair to all parties. The recommendations go as far as increasing the obligation of the party who owes the money to provide information early on in the proceedings in relation to their finances and gives the Court power to obtain information from third parties for example, banks, pension providers and Government departments. The proposed procedure would also make it easier to enforce against self-employed parties.
The Government is currently considering implementing the recommendations made by the Law Commission.
If you need to enforce a financial order you should seek expert legal advice. If you wish to speak to a solicitor regarding this issue contact Cristina Court, Fraser Brown, Bingham Office on 01949 838 439, or Katie Beal or Julie Mcrery on 0115 9888 777.