Law Commission calls for tougher enforcement of family financial orders

It is estimated that millions of pounds go unpaid every year as a result of non-compliance with financial remedy orders. The Law Commission has called for a cultural change to ensure that family financial orders are enforced more effectively as family financial orders are an important yet often overlooked area of law. The Law Commission’s report has been welcomed by family practitioners.

Family financial orders are usually made upon the ending of a marriage or civil partnership that require a payment of money, or the transfer of property, between former spouses or civil partners. Orders can also be made between parents for the benefit of the children of the family. The Law Commission found that people tend to think the process is over once a financial order has been made. The Commission has said that ‘Enforcement of that order is unlikely to be at the forefront of people’s minds. There is an expectation that people will comply with court orders’.

Recommendations made by the Law Commission to improve enforcement include making three types of asset more accessible to the court to discharge the debt:

1. The debtor’s pension;
2. Funds held in joint accounts;
3. Money that will become payable to the debtor in the future.

The Commission also suggests more effective coercive methods of enforcement such as disqualifying debtors from driving or ban them from travelling out of the UK. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson has said that they ‘welcome the report and will consider its recommendations carefully’.

We have considerable experience in dealing with the enforcement of family financial orders so if you have failed to comply with the terms of a financial order or your former partner has breached the terms of the order then we recommend that you seek legal advice promptly. Our specialist team will be able to advise you of your options and the potential consequences. Please contact us today on 0161 927 3118.