If your ex is ignoring a Consent Court Order, certain parts of it might be enforceable immediately.
They also risk being in contempt of court and possible severe penalties such as a fine, imprisonment – or both.
The order is made by a judge in situations where both parties undergoing divorce agree on financial settlements which can entail paying a sum of money, transferring ownership of a property, maintenance, pension sharing and provision for debt.
Refusal to adhere to the terms of an order is thankfully, unusual. But when the agreement is broken, the court has the power to take action.
Consent orders cannot be appealed unless there is evidence of significant facts not being disclosed when the original agreement was made.
If the default relates to a payment of money, such as maintenance or a post-divorce lump sum, it can be enforced through the court system as an ordinary debt and recovered by bailiffs through enforcement powers which may include seizure of assets.
An attachment of earnings can also be obtained. Where one party refuses to transfer an interest in a property then a judge can be requested to sign all the transfer papers in place of the defaulting party.
It is particularly important to act early in relation to late maintenance payments, because if the arrears are over 12 months old, permission is necessary from the court to enforce them – and judges have in the past been known to write off historic arrears.
As well as enforcement action, the courts also have the authority to punish those who fail to comply with terms of an order. If a party is instructed to take a certain action and refuses, they may find themselves in contempt of court which is extremely serious and may result in an offence punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.
Every financial consent order is different and if, and how, it is enforced depends very much on the specific circumstances of the case. It is vital to obtain expert advice at the first possible opportunity from experienced family lawyers who can guide and support you though the process.
About Peter Jones
Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.
Renowned for his sympathetic approach, he is a former national chairman of Resolution, a former Deputy District Judge – and instigated the D5 Group of law firms that promotes excellence in family law. www.jonesmyers.co.uk