In a consultation opening today, the Law Commission is seeking views on options for reform that would simplify and clarify the law and make it easier for the courts, practitioners and the public to use.Every year,
thousands of separating couples apply to the courts for financial orders, either
because they cannot agree or to turn an agreement into an order so as to make it
enforceable. The courts
can order a person
to make financial
provision for a former
spouse or civil
partner. Sometimes the courts also make orders for the benefit
of the children.
The orders are made to help make sure that the needs of both partners and their
children are met and, where possible, to maintain their living standards.
see the court’s order as the final stage of the legal process of separation,
that may not be the end of the story. Sometimes people do not comply with court
orders, either because they do not want to or because changing circumstances
mean they are no longer able to comply.
law, the courts can struggle to
orders they make.
mechanisms for enforcement
are contained in
a range of legislation and court rules. Court users can find the process
bewildering and parties often face significant expense and distress in trying to
get what they are owed which can lead to hardship for them and their
In a consultation
opening today, the Law Commission is seeking views on options for reform that
would simplify and clarify the law and make it easier for the courts,
practitioners and the public to use. In its consultation paper the Commission
explores ways in which existing mechanisms for enforcing compliance can be made
more effective and considers new mechanisms that might be used, in particular to
bring pressure to bear on those who refuse to meet their obligations under a
family financial order.
suggests reforms that would provide the courts and former partners with more
useful information about the financial position of the party who has not
complied. This would provide a better understanding of why a financial order has
not been met, and enable the parties to make decisions about enforcement and
find a solution. The Commission also makes proposals for information, support
and advice to be provided for the public affected by the enforcement of family
Elizabeth Cooke, Law Commissioner for property, family and trust law, said:
'The law governing
family financial orders is hard to
understand and difficult to use. When the courts cannot enforce family financial
orders, it can lead to real hardship for former partners and children and place
a huge burden on the state. We need to understand whether existing mechanisms
for enforcement are working as well as they might, what other powers the courts
might use to tackle non-payment, and how we can find better solutions for
couples when one partner is able to pay but refuses to do
is open from 11 March to 11 July 2015.
The Executive Summary is available to download here
. The consultation paper is available here