Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Nicki Mitchell
Legal Features Writer
1:00 AM 9th March 2024

What Can I Do If My Financial Consent Order Is Ignored?

Image by Rafa Bordes from Pixabay
Image by Rafa Bordes from Pixabay
A Financial Consent Order, which divides financial assets between divorcing couples, is vital in protecting them from future financial claims.

Once approved by a court, a consent order becomes legally binding and its terms are enforceable in exactly the same way as an order made by a Judge after a contested court hearing. The positive is that agreed orders are much less likely to need to be enforced than those imposed by a Judge.

If your order is being ignored, we always advise, wherever possible, to contact your ex to understand why they haven’t done what the order requires before initiating legal action.

There might be genuine reasons for their failure to comply and communicating with them may resolve the problem. This is something which a court will expect you to do in any event before any enforcement application is made.

If this approach doesn’t work or your ex fails to respond, you may want to seek legal advice with a view to taking legal action.

The penalties for breaching a Financial Consent Order include the risk being in contempt of court and possible severe penalties such as a fine, imprisonment – or both.

The legal avenues to address a refusal to comply with a Financial Consent Order include:

Enforcing orders for sale of property
The courts possess stringent powers to ensure orders for sale of property are put into effect. Where your ex is failing to do what is required to market a property, the court can make an order giving you the power to progress the sale without their input. The Judge can even sign key documents on behalf of your ex if they refuse to do so.

Charging Order
If there is an unpaid lump sum and your ex owns property, the court can make a charging order. This is registered against the property. If the debt remains unpaid, you can make an application to enforce the charging order by a sale of the property.

Attachment of Earnings Order
This court order compels your ex-spouse’s employer to make regular deductions from their wages and send them to the court until the money owed is paid. Attachment of earnings can be a useful means of enforcing maintenance orders.

Third-party Debt Order
A court can order that money be taken from your ex’s bank account or from other monies owed to them.

Warrant of Control
A court order where the court instructs bailiffs to collect the money owed by seizing your specified assets and selling them to pay the debt.

If you are in this situation, we always recommend taking expert advice to help you navigate the enforcement process. Alternatively, if your circumstances change and you cannot fulfil the obligations outlined in your Financial Consent Order, specialist family lawyers can guide and support you to seek a variation of the order.