Law Commission issues report on enforcement of family financial orders

Law Commission issues report on enforcement of family financial orders

Family analysis: The Law Commission has issued a report recommending wide-ranging reform of the law of enforcement of family financial orders with the aim of making this area of law more effective, efficient and accessible, and to strike a fairer balance between the interests of both parties. The recommendations include consolidation of the rules regarding enforcement, the introduction of a new Practice Direction, guidance for litigants in person, and the extension of existing methods of enforcement.

Original news

Enforcement of Family Financial Orders (Law Com 370)

What is the background to the report?

The project was recommended to the Law Commission by the Family Law Bar Association in 2010 in its response to the consultation on the Law Commission’s 11th Programme of Law Reform. The start of the project was delayed until the completion of the project on Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements, and work began on the enforcement project in April 2014. The consultation paper was published in March 2015 and the consultation closed in July 2015 (see here). The report setting out the Law Commission's recommendations was issued on 15 December 2016.

The Law Commission's recommendations seek to address four key problems:

  • the complexity of the rules regrading the enforcement of financial orders
  • lack of information about debtors
  • cases where some of the debtor’s assets are beyond existing enforcement powers, and
  • the lack of means to apply pressure to debtors who can, but will not, pay

The Law Commission states that non-compliance with family financial orders is a significant problem, and estimates that on average there are 4,200 enforcement cases in relation to family financial orders each year. Although data on the total amount of money that goes unpaid each year through non-compliance with family financial orders is not routinely collected, the Law Commission estimates that it is approximately £15 - 20m. Further, that those figures are likely to be an underestimate as they do not account for individuals who are not receiving what they are owed under a family financial order, but who may not take action due to:

  • a lack of understanding of the system
  • a feeling that they

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).