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14 March 2014

Divorce and Enforcement of Consent Orders

A Consent Order is the legal document recording the financial division upon, or following, divorce.  A Consent Order is made by the Court and must be adhered to by both parties.  However, occasionally the situation arises where one party attempts to try and avoid implementation of the Consent Order. 

Until recently there was not a great deal of case law on this topic, however, two recent law reports have dealt with this issue.  Both cases involved applications for breach of financial orders:

The case of Hope v Krejci [2014] EWHC B5 (Fam) was an application by the wife against the husband for breach of a consent order made in July 2012, requiring him to transfer to her two cars and a motorbike.  By the time the wife’s committal application was heard in January 2014, the husband had failed to transfer the vehicles to the wife.  The Judge was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the husband was in contempt of court for failing to transfer the vehicles to the wife, as required by the order of the Court.  To ensure the money was paid, the Judge made an order committing the husband to prison for two months, suspended so long as the husband pay the sum of £16,000 to the wife’s solicitors by 15 March 2014.  If the money is paid, then the committal order will be discharged but if it is not paid by that date, the husband will be sent to prison.

The case of Pocock v Pocock [2013] EW Misc 26 (CC) concerned a consent order reached between the parties on 22 August 2011, under which the husband had agreed to transfer the former matrimonial home to the wife, to pay the mortgage repayments and to redeem the mortgage on or before 9 September 2011.  The redemption of the mortgage had not happened and the mortgage payments had only been made sporadically.  This caused considerable stress to the wife, who had to return to the Court repeatedly.  The wife applied for the husband’s committal to prison for breach of the order.  The Judge made a fourteen day order of imprisonment against the husband.  The order was suspended, so long as the husband paid the mortgage (he had brought it up to date just prior to the hearing) but the Judge warned him that it would be activated if there was any further breach of the consent order.

Emma Alfieri, from Steeles Law’s family team, commented: “These cases provide a stern warning of the possible consequences of failure to comply with court orders and the importance of ensuring they are efficiently implemented”.  For further information contact the family team at Steeles Law.

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