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Enforcement of Family Law Orders

When parties reach an agreement to finalise their property settlement and divide their assets after the breakdown of their relationship, or if a Family Court has to make a decision when no agreement can be reached, this agreement or decision is usually formalised through a Court Order. The Court Order sets out in detail the assets that each party is to retain, including whether any money has to be paid from one party to the other, or the title to an asset transferred from one party to the other. 

It is sometimes the case that after the Orders have been approved by a Family Court that one party refuses to comply with the Order.  Under the Family Law Act and Family Law Rules there are mechanisms that the Family Courts can use to enforce the obligations on each party that are set out in the Orders.  Court Orders need to be carefully drafted to make sure that it is possible for the Orders to be enforced without ambiguity.

The enforcement powers the Courts have include; making further Orders for the outstanding amount of money to be paid under a third party debt notice; Orders for the seizure and sale of personal property under an enforcement warrant; Orders for the sequestration of property, and Orders for the appointment of a receiver or receiver manager to be put appointed to manage the running of an asset such as a business or rental property to ensure that the outstanding payment can be made.

Where money is owed under an Order, the person owed money can apply to the Court for an Enforcement Hearing, where the defaulting party is required to provide details of their financial circumstances, leading to discussions which hopefully lead to new arrangements being made to satisfy the debt.  If the defaulting party fails to attend the Enforcement Hearing, a warrant can be issued allowing for the arrest of the party and/or the seizure and sale of their assets including land or personal property such as cars, caravans and boats, in payment of the debt.  

Where an aggrieved party is aware that the defaulting party has money in a bank that is sufficient to pay the amount owing under the Order, a Court can issue a third party debt notice which obliges a bank or other financial institution holding money to pay those funds to the aggrieved party without the defaulting party’s consent.  

If you need assistance to enforce the obligations under a Court Order, please contact our office to make a video or telephone conference.  Our office remains open for business. 

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