The Law Commission has announced that the Government has agreed to help improve financial orders enforcement following its report published in 2016
. The Government has committed to bringing forward non-legislative measures in order to reform and improve the enforcement system, as well as taking time to consider further reform in the future.
Couples who are separating can apply to the courts for financial orders –
which are payments which a court decides partners must pay to one another, to support an ex-partner for example.
The Commission’s report identified that the law in this area is often ineffective as it is too complicated – meaning these orders, fairly awarded by the court, are not always complied with. The Commission also notes that failures to recover the awarded money can lead to significant hardship both for former spouses and their children.
Key enforcement issuesThe Commission has highlighted four key problems with the current law. These include:
Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer has outlined in a letter to the Commission, the Government’s commitment to reforming Family Procedure Rules 2010 and operational procedures system. The reforms include, among others:
- the complexity of the rules;
- a lack of information about the debtor;
- some of the debtor’s assets being beyond existing enforcement powers; and
- a lack of means to apply pressure to debtors who can but will not pay.
- rationalising the rules on enforcement so that the law and procedure can all be found in one place and is easier to understand and use;
- making sure that the general enforcement application – which allows a creditor owed money to ask the court to enforce the order in the way it thinks best – is fit for purpose; and
- creating new guidance for litigants so they know how to go about enforcing their awards.
Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said:
'If a court decides that a former partner or children are deserving of financial support, it’s not for a debtor to act or do otherwise. These reforms will help to prevent serious hardship that some face when debtors refuse to pay, and I’m pleased Government is taking action to help those most in need.'