March 6, 2024

Actions to take if a Financial Consent Order is ignored

Jones Myers Family Law outlines the legal avenues to address a refusal to comply with a Financial Consent Order

By Jones Myers Partner, Nicki Mitchell

A Financial Consent Order, which divides financial assets between separating couples, is vital in protecting them from future financial claims.

Once approved by a court, a consent order becomes legally binding and its terms are enforceable in exactly the same way as an order made by a Judge after a contested court hearing.  The positive is that agreed orders are much less likely to need to be enforced than those imposed by a Judge.

If your order is being ignored, we always advise, wherever possible, to contact your ex to understand why they haven’t done what the order requires before initiating legal action.

There might be genuine reasons for their failure to comply and communicating with them may resolve the problem. This is something which a court will expect you to do in any event before any enforcement application is made.

If this approach doesn’t work or your ex fails to respond, you may want to seek legal advice with a view to taking legal action.

The penalties for breaching a Financial Consent Order include the risk being in contempt of court and possible severe penalties such as a fine, imprisonment – or both. The legal avenues to address a refusal to comply with a Financial Consent Order include:

Enforcing orders for sale of property

The courts possess stringent powers to ensure orders for sale of property are put into effect.  Where your ex is failing to do what is required to market a property, the court can make an order giving you the power to progress the sale without their input.  The Judge can even sign key documents on behalf of your ex if they refuse to do so.

Charging Order

If there is an unpaid lump sum and your ex owns property, the court can make a charging order. This is registered against the property. If the debt remains unpaid, you can make an application to enforce the charging order by a sale of the property.

Attachment of Earnings Order

This court order compels your ex-spouse’s employer to make regular deductions from their wages and send them to the court until the money owed is paid.  Attachment of earnings can be a useful means of enforcing maintenance orders.

Third-party Debt Order

A court can order that money be taken from your ex’s bank account or from other monies owed to them.

Warrant of Control

A court order where the court instructs bailiffs to collect the money owed by seizing your specified assets and selling them to pay the debt.

At Jones Myers we help our clients navigate the enforcement process. Alternatively, if their circumstances change and they cannot fulfil the obligations outlined in their Financial Consent Order, we can guide and support them to seek a variation of the order.

For queries on Financial Consent Orders or any aspect of family law, call 0113 246 0055 (Leeds), 01423 276104 (Harrogate), or 01904 202550 (York). Visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

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