The failure to comply with a financial order can have serious consequences.
Just as a military officer can order a soldier of lower rank to follow a command, the Family Court can order the parties in a family law proceeding to do or refrain from doing certain things. Orders might be contained in a decree, a decision, a declaration, or a judgment entered by a judicial officer. The Family Court is authorized to enter parenting orders (governing the conduct of parents regarding their children) and financial orders (governing the disposition of property and the payment of money).
In a divorce or other family law proceeding, it is usual for the Family Court to divide the property and debts of a divorcing couple and to require one spouse to make payments to the other. The Family Court imposes these requirements in the form of a financial order. A financial order might require someone to:
Financial orders impose legal obligations. If you fail to obey them, you face serious consequences. If a financial order has been entered for your benefit (for instance, an order requiring a former spouse to pay you a sum of money) and the order is disobeyed, you can seek enforcement of the order in the Family Court.
If you have a maintenance agreement, a financial agreement, or a child support liability that is not in the form of an order, you must take certain steps specified in chapter 20 of the Family Law Rules before you can enforce payment.
Rule 20.04 of the Family Law Rules provides that a party in a case in which a financial order is entered may enforce the order. In addition, an order that requires money to be paid for the benefit of a child may be enforced by the child. A registered child support liability (one that is registered for collection by the Child Support Agency) can only be enforced by the Child Support Agency.
Rule 5.01 of the Family Law Rules require the person seeking enforcement of a financial order to file an Application with the Family Court. In most cases, the Application must be supported by an Affidavit that meets the requirements of Rule 20.06.
The Family Court is authorized by Rule 20.05 to enforce an order requiring the payment of money by ordering:
In addition, Chapter 21 of the Family Law Rules allows the Family Court to hold a person in contempt for disobeying a court order. Punishment for contempt of court can include imprisonment.