Can you make a reluctant former partner pay up?

Posted by Christine Plews on
A recent case has acknowledged that there are no short cuts to obtaining maintenance orders.

The law relating to the enforcement of court orders was set down as long ago as 1952 in a case called Hadkinson v Hadkinson which led to the enforcement order being known as a Hadkinson Order.

However, the recent case of Assoun v Assoun [2017] decided that whilst the Judge had been entitled to make a Hadkinson Order on a without notice basis against a husband who had been in wilful default of orders made in financial remedy proceedings, future cases should be dealt with differently.

Going forward the court will now expect there to be compliance with the rules and practice directions of the court, unless there are grounds to establish the need for an urgent application without telling the non-payer.

Previously, where a non-payer has made an application to vary downwards or discharge a maintenance order (and wipe out the arrears) because of a change in financial circumstances, they had not been able to do so until the sums due under the original order had been paid. This preventative order could be made without the non-payer knowing and would prevent the maintenance order being reduced in the future until the existing debt had been settled.

Some while ago I obtained a Hadkinson Order for a client who was owed money under a financial remedies Order. However, as the payee probably found here, the Order did not ultimately speed things up as it provoked lengthy correspondence and further applications to the court to challenge how the application could have been made without the non-payer knowing and following him producing information as to his current financial circumstances, he was able to make the variation application he wanted.

The judicial guidance now received on these types of Orders is probably a realistic acknowledgement that there can be no short cuts to obtaining Orders both from a practical viewpoint and in the interests of open and transparent justice.

If you are seeking to make a reluctant partner pay a maintenance order, please contact Christine Plews in the family team, who would be pleased to assist you. 

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Christine leads the Family Law Practice Group and specialises in matters arising out of divorce and separation, including cohabitee disputes. She is an experienced mediator.

Christine Plews
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