Enforcing Family Court Orders

Mar 19, 2018   ·   3 minute read
Enforcing Family Court Orders

Pilot faces a £600,000 payment and a freezing order after losing his Court battle over the enforcement of a family Court order.

Whenever a divorcing couple end up in Court with a family judge making the decision on how their assets should be divided or how much spousal maintenance and child support should be paid there is always a risk that either the husband or wife or both of them may be very unhappy with the outcome of the Court proceedings and their Court Order.

The dissatisfaction with a family Court judgement and financial order can lead to appeals against the decision or to orders being deliberately flouted in the hope that an ex-husband or wife won’t want to launch further Court proceedings to enforce the original financial Court order.

Sometimes financial Court proceedings can take on a life of their own. The media has recently highlighted the case of Richard Wilmot and his ex-wife Viki Maughan who have been engaged in a 16 year battle over payment of child support, with paternity of the youngest child being in dispute despite DNA testing.

The Court has ruled that just shy of £600,000 should be paid to the ex-wife, consisting of child support arrears and legal costs. Importantly the Court has also made a freezing order freezing property, money in bank accounts as well as pension and insurance monies.

The Court decision to freeze assets shows just how far family judges are prepared to go to make sure that Court orders are complied with.

A read of the Court judgement emphasises just how exasperated the judge was by the ‘’utter folly’’ of the ex-husband’s actions resulting in him being ordered to pay nearly £600,000 when the child support arrears only amounted to about £115,000 with the rest of the monies being legal costs and the costs of specialists employed by the ex-wife to trace and recover the money.

The case highlights the financial and emotional costs of engaging in a long drawn out Court battle but, perhaps more importantly, shows the long arm of the law, in this case over a 16 year period to enforce the payment of child support .

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In my view this unhappy Court saga reveals why it is so vital to try and reach an out of Court financial settlement that both an ex-husband and ex-wife can live with to avoid enforcement Court litigation and costs. That isn’t always possible. If a financial Court order has to be made by a judge it is important to take legal advice on appeal options and, if necessary, enforcement options to avoid the costs of the Court proceedings getting out of hand and ultimately, as in the case of Mr Wilmot, dwarfing the amount in dispute between husband and wife.

If you need help with the terms of a financial settlement or a Court order please contact us.