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How to enforce a financial order in a divorce case

As divorce lawyers we are frequently contacted by people who have obtained a final financial order through the divorce courts but the other party has not complied with the terms of the financial order.

28 January 2015

They may have an order that the other person pays them a lump sum or regular monthly payments of maintenance or an order for the sale of a property or transfer of a property into a sole name.

So what can you do to enforce a financial order if the other person refuses to co-operate with the terms of the court order? There are several methods of enforcing a financial order in England & Wales:

Charging Order

If there is an order for the payment of a lump sum and the other party has refused to pay the lump sum or part of it and has property, then the court may grant a charge over the debtor’s property. Initially it is necessary to make an application to the court for an interim charging order and the court will set a hearing date to consider the application.

If this is successful and the interim charging order is granted then the court will set a return date for a further hearing to make the interim charging order absolute. Any interim order must be served on any joint owner or other known creditor. Once a charging order absolute has been obtained if the debtor still does not pay the sums due then an application can be made to the court for an order for sale of the charged property so that the monies owed are paid.

A further hearing is then fixed to consider the application for the order for sale. It will be necessary to apply to register the charging order at the Land Registry if it is real property or at the Company registry if the property is a stock or share holding.

Attachment of Earnings Order

If there is an order for maintenance payments which have not been paid or which are in arrears, then an application can be made to the court for an attachment of earnings order. Following the application the court will set a hearing date and if granted the order then requires an employer to make deductions direct from the debtor’s earnings and to make regular payments direct to the court which are then forwarded to the creditor.

Judgment Summons

If maintenance, a lump sum, costs, or undertakings to pay school fees of more than £50 have not been paid, then an application can be made to the court for an order to freeze assets which are held by a third party such as a bank or building society.

All these applications require a statement in support verifying the amount due under the existing financial order and clearly showing how the amount has been calculated.

If you need advice on your personal circumstances, contact our family team on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we'll be happy to help.

All the above information was correct at the time of publication.

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