Law Commission consultation on enforcing financial orders

    The Law Commission has published a consultation paper to explore how best to enforce family financial orders.

    Family courts have the power to make financial orders for the benefit of a spouse on the breakdown of marriage or civil partnership; sometimes also they’re made for the benefit of children. Very often they’ll be made when the parties involved have been unable to agree how their finances should be arranged and need the courts to decide, or it might be a means of making an agreement enforceable.

    It can take a lot of work to obtain an order, but if that order is not complied with, the situation can be drawn out even further, causing more financial and emotional upheaval for those involved.

    As it stands, family courts can run into difficulties getting their orders enforced, and the existing law on the issue is complex and sometimes confusing, both for legal practitioners as well as court users. However, the Commission has said that despite all the pain that can be caused by parties not complying with orders, especially in family matters, enforcement “is an often overlooked area of the law”.

    With this in mind, the Law Commission aims to open a discussion on the issue, appealing for views on how to simplify and clarify the law. The consultation will help determine ways in which existing mechanisms for enforcement can be improved, and also suggest new mechanisms to apply pressure to those who fail to comply with an order.

    The Commission is also keen to look into ways to get better information out to the public about how the system works, especially for litigants in person. It is hoped that the results will be beneficial to legal practitioners, the courts and the public alike.

    The Law Commission will assess all the responses to the consultation paper and will aim to publish a report with their recommendations in the summer of 2017. The consultation paper can be read here.