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Plans to improve enforcement of Family Financial Orders

The Law Commission is looking at ways to improve the enforcement of Family Financial Orders, which are used to help support children and former spouses following divorce.

The commission says these orders are sometimes obtained at “significant financial and emotional cost” to everyone involved. The stress can be compounded if the orders cannot then be enforced, causing financial hardship for both adults and children.

Enforcement procedures are contained in a wide range of legislation. This can lead to the courts finding it difficult to interpret how various regulations interact. For this reason, the commission says that the enforcement of financial orders can be “hopelessly complex and procedurally tortuous”.

It wants the law to be reformed to provide a clear set of rules to ensure enforcement without the need for multiple hearings. The commission also wants to enable courts “to consider enforcement against a wide range of assets and to allow the enforcement regime to work effectively when small amounts are owed, so that parties are not forced to wait until large arrears are due before enforcing orders in their favour.”

A commission statement says: “Better law in this area will help to ensure that money that has been ordered to be paid for the support of children and adults is paid. It would also limit the damaging effects of ongoing litigation on families, enabling the parties to move on with their lives.”

The commission is now seeking views on a set of provisional proposals put forward in a consultation document. We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.