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A Guide to Court Orders

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 17 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Court Order Debt Children Small Claims

A court order is an official judgement or ruling given by a judge. A court order can be final (at the end of a hearing) or interim (until a final order can be made). What is in the order depends entirely on the case presented to the judge. Here are some examples of different orders available in a family law case:

  • residence order - ruling on who a child will live with.
  • contact order - ruling on who has a right to see a child, often detailing how often and when.
  • specific issue order - ruling on a specific issue raised with the court (e.g. can a child by circumcised).

How Do I Apply For a Court Order?

You will need to fill in the correct court form. This varies depending upon the type of order you want, but all forms can be downloaded from Justice.gov.uk For most family law disputes, this form is called C100, however there is a list of forms on the website, or all family forms can be found here.

Most forms have guidance leaflets or checklists to assist you in filling them in. Use these carefully, as if your form is not filled in correctly, it may not be processed.

Once you have completed your form, you need to send it back to your local county or family court. There is usually a cost to file your form. You can check the exact cost with your local county or family court. A debt claim usually costs about £70, but a family order application could be as much as £200.

My common law partner and I split in February last year. Since then he has left me with all the debts/Bills he didn't pay when we were together. He put my name on all the household bills as well as his without my permission. He was the sole earner and responsible for all the bills etc. I now have the bailiffs onto me and as I am on benefits I cannot possibly afford to pay off the debts. Can I take him to a small claims court at all?

You may be able to ask the court to decide issues relating to division of assets / debts. They can also determine who is responsible for bill payments etc. However be aware that the courts do not have the same ability to award assets from one party as they can upon divorce, if you are not married. The court can only divide the assets / debts of an unmarried couple by determining who they actually belong to. If the debts are occurred in joint names, you will both be responsible for the whole sum of the debts. This means that the utility companies can unfortunately pursue you for the whole amount. You may be best in the short-term to try to agree a payment plan with the utility companies.

Do I Need Legal Representation?

I need to get a court order lifted but don't know how without losing all my wages with a solicitor. Is there any way we can get into court without going through a solicitor?

You do not need a solicitor or legal representation to make or obtain an order. However, particularly for family law orders, this is often advised, as the forms and procedure can be quite complicated. The judge also has discretion to order something that you have not applied for, so you need to consider family law orders as a whole, rather than just the order you are applying for. A court order may affect your / your child's life in a way you had not thought about, so it always worth discussing the plans to apply for an order with a solicitor first.

You may be able to get free legal advice from your high street solicitor, or the Citizen's Advice Bureau, so if you are worried about the cost of getting legal advice, investigate this option! You can contact your local branch of the Citizen's Advice Bureau Citizen's Advice Bureau or call 08444 111 444 for assistance.

How Do I Enforce An Order?

There are various methods of enforcing orders, and which method is best depends upon the original order and the status of the parties in relation to each other.

For example to enforce a money judgement, you may wish to:

  • a) have a warrant of execution (which can essentially end up with bailiffs collecting money / possessions to sell to satisfy the order).
  • b) You could however also ask for an attachment to earnings if the debtor has no valuable goods but works. By this method, part of their wage would be paid to you monthly. However bear in mind that this is not likely to be a high amount, and so it may take months / years to be repaid, and payments will stop if the debtor becomes unemployed.
  • c) Banks often ask for a charging order against a Property. This does not result in any immediate money, but will mean that once the debtor eventual sells their Property (if for example they move house), the money will be collected, along with interest, in a lump sum.

You do not have to enforce a judgement in the same court that the original order was made, but if you wish to use a different court, you will need to apply to the original court for the case to be transferred. Transfer requests are often approved on the basis, for example, that parties have relocated to a different part of the country.

I have a financial court order in place to sell my house. My ex and I are separated now for over 2 years. I took her to court in October to try and get the house sold. Agreed on 75% (her) and 25% split. She is still not happy about this and is dragging her heels saying she hasn't found anywhere to live. I know on top of this she can borrow up to £150,000 on her 16 hour a week salary. But, I know that she isn't even looking. I have my children every other weekend and live in a flat. Have just had another child and really need to move for the space. She says tough. What can I do I feel that I have not progressed anything by taking her to court she is now going to say all the time that she hasn't found anywhere to live. I pay the mortgage on the property until sale. At wits end. Should I just take her back to court and if I do can she be ordered to pay the costs?
In order to enforce an order, be aware that you will incur further costs, though these can usually be claimed back from the debtor. In general each step of enforcement costs about £100.

In deciding which step to take to enforce an order, it is often important to find out how much the debtor can afford to pay, or in the case of forcing sale of a Property, what the person can afford to pay in rent etc. The easiest way to find out this information is to ask the court to order the debtor to attend court and provide evidence of their income or spending (e.g. produce bills and bank statements). It costs approximately £50 to order someone to attend court.

If you wish to send a bailiff to collect your money, or deduct money from someone's wage, you will need to fill in the relevant form from Justice.gov.uk The court can also freeze money in someone's account if needed to stop money being spent before you are paid your share as per an earlier order.

How Do I Change An Order?

I am a single mum with two children. My ex-boyfriend got a court order to see the kids and he lets them down all the time. What shall I do? How do I stop my daughter getting hurt by him coming in and out of her life?
If you want to change a court order, there are two methods:
  • 1) Agree the change with your ex-partner and make the change on a voluntary basis (this is usually more suitable when you wish to change the specifics of an order such as what days you have contact, rather than whether you have contact or not).
  • 2) Return to court.

For orders made in the family court, if the changes are not contested by your ex-partner, the judge will make a new order at the first hearing. If the changes are contested, you will need to prove that there has been a change of circumstances. (Note that an amendment to the law is not in itself a change of circumstances.) The full process of CAFCASS reports and investigations and representations in front of a judge (like when the original order was made) will start again.

To apply to change an order, you will again need to fill in the relevant form which can be found at Justice.gov.uk There is again a cost for filling this form.

Be aware that the courts are very reluctant to stop parents seeing their children. Even in cases of domestic violence, the courts will still often allow the offending parent to see their children; they will just ensure that this is supervised at a family contact centre. You may therefore be better suggesting that the specifics of the order are varied (e.g. less contact time until proves can keep regular appointments) rather than suggesting that all contact is stopped.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Desperate - Your Question:
As part of a divorce settlement 20 years ago half of my pension was awarded to my X provided she never remarried. A court order was sent to my pension company. I’m at a point that I’m cashing as lump sum. However, she has moved, the pension company have traced her but she fails to answer their letters and they will not give me my half until she does. She doesn’t need the money and is just being obstructive. What Can I do. I’m living in almost poverty

Our Response:
Your only recourse here would be to seek legal advice, as this is beyond our remit to advise. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help, if you cannot afford a solicitor.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Oct-17 @ 2:24 PM
My ex husband got me to sign a charge on my property when we first split up. I really was not well with stress at the time and had no idea what it meant. I took over the mortgage as he could not get a mortgage by saying as joint owners.,After supporting our son through uni for 4 years I really cannot afford to give him the money. He bullied me into selling our previous house and we had equity in the house which was put down on my house now. I cannot get a loan from the bank to pay him off and also I have my mother living with me whoneeds a lot of nursing care. This is her home to. I cannot afford Legal representation and with all the care my mother needs. She cannot walk is a hoist transfere and has multi health needs I find it very hard to have a Telephone call let alone get to avSolucitor for Legal advice. I am scared I and my mum are going to be made homeless. I don’t know what to do. I have spoken to citizen advice who have said no court would throw me out of my home when he lives mortgage free with his now wife. I am really scared.We divorced in 2012 .
Jo jo - 17-Oct-17 @ 12:18 PM
As part of a divorce settlement 20 years ago half of my pension was awarded to my X provided she never remarried. A court order was sent to my pension company. I’m at a point that I’m cashing as lump sum. However, she has moved, the pension company have traced her but she fails to answer their letters and they will not give me my half until she does. She doesn’t need the money and is just being obstructive. What Can I do. I’m living in almost poverty
Desperate - 17-Oct-17 @ 8:56 AM
Last year an Housing Association served me with a Section 21 because they could. No reason necessary with a 12 month starter tenancy. However, after being a good neighbour and following the Tenancy Handbook strictly, I was accused of malicious accusations and causing distress to a fellow neighbour. All I had done was report the neighbour's excessively loud music playing, as and when it happened. Basically, the Housing Association sent me all the relevant documents in relation to seeking possession of their property. Upon my receipt of the Section 21, I called the local council for help. I was assessed by the council via telephone, and after a few days I received a letter informing me that I had made myself homeless and was therefore not entitled to help by the council to rehouse me. It later came out that the lady from the H.A. was also a local councillor who had been putting pressure on the housing dept at the council by expressing her disapproval of them rehousing me. I challenged the council on this by provided video recordings, and eventually the council conceded and reinstated their duty to help. But, all this delay had taken me over the notice time of the section 21. The council were frantically trying to procure private accommodation just to get me out of the Housing Association, and to probably avoid my having to pay any liable court fees. Unfortunately, I was still in the property when the possession order was served, and attended county court to see what they had to say. They postponed the hearing, and I heard nothing back from them. My solicitor said that I would do well to go to a debt management organisation, as I would be liable for these costs incurred - which totaled over 3 thousand pounds. Bear in mind that I had no rent arrears or caused any harassment to anyone, or any things that were claimed I had done. When I had a self arranged interview with police, the police told me that what the H.A. had been accusing me of were things that the H.A. should have reported to the police. Anyway, it's about 7 months since any contact with the solicitor present on the court day, I am now in council property and have still not received any order to pay the costs. What is going on? I don't want to call the court in the case that they may have overlooked my liability.
LauraD - 14-Oct-17 @ 7:17 PM
@Nef - can you not send the forms to your ex to sign, and/or make sure he does this through a solicitor?
Jude - 13-Oct-17 @ 12:14 PM
Hi My ex partner left to go live with his new girlfriend in Indonesia in January 2015. we have joint tenancy and I want to do a mutual exchange with a friend. my ex is more than happy to have his name removed but, the housing association says he has to sign forms infront of a housing official or I have to get a court order! As my ex has no intention of ever coming back to the UK I have to do the latter. How do I go about this without paying a solicitor?
Nef - 12-Oct-17 @ 3:12 PM
Pugs - Your Question:
My husband took his x wife to court as she lied to the CSA about how much acsess my husband was having with his child. A court order was made stating how much acsees my husband has and this was sent to the CSA, the CSA say they can't use this as evidence as the court order is not stamped and now they say he owes hunderds of pounds. Where does he go from here?

Our Response:
Your husband would have to complain/appeal, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 6-Oct-17 @ 4:00 PM
My husband took his x wife to court as she lied to the CSA about how much acsess my husband was having with his child. A court order was made stating how much acsees my husband has and this was sent to the CSA, the CSA say they can't use this as evidence as the court order is not stamped and now they say he owes hunderds of pounds. Where does he go from here?
Pugs - 5-Oct-17 @ 7:21 PM
Kerry - Your Question:
Have had judgement summons hearing, where I was able to prove that ex has refused or neglecting to pay spousal maintenance, despite having the means. He has never paid a penny, yet the hearing has been adjourned to allow him to vary the order. How can that be fair?

Our Response:
We cannot comment upon a court decision. The court's aim is to make a decision that is based on being 'fair' and we have no recourse to challenge, agree or disagree with this.
CourtroomAdvice - 29-Sep-17 @ 1:01 PM
Have had judgement summons hearing, where I was able to prove that ex has refused or neglecting to pay spousal maintenance, despite having the means. He has never paid a penny, yet the hearing has been adjourned to allow him to vary the order. How can that be fair?
Kerry - 28-Sep-17 @ 8:05 PM
Hello, I have a child maintenance payment in force in form of a court order that was agreed in our divorce that he is to pay this until our child leaves full time education etc. It is my understanding that after 12 months that the ex husband is entitled to approach Child Support and pay me as per their calculation (which would be a lot less than what I receive now). Is there a way to stop this from happening? I.e. Have the court reinforce it before it's 12 month anniversary is up for the order currently in place? Thanks in advance
Phillips79 - 27-Sep-17 @ 11:54 PM
Darin - Your Question:
Can anyone help.I seperated from my wife last year and she continued living in the property with our 2 children. Since then she has stated that she has no long term plans to remain in the property and she instructed me to have it put on the market. This happened six weeks ago. Since then whenever the estate agent has tried to contact her in relation to the sale all the calls and messages have gone unresponsive. I pay 100% of the mortgage and just want it sold so that I can get a place of my own but my ex wife is making this very difficult.If I wanted to apply for a court order to force through the sale of the house what would my options be?

Our Response:
It sounds as though she is stalling, the difficulty is trying to get a court to force the sale while your ex is caring for your children. A court will first and foremost decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. I suggest seeking some legal advice here, to see if there is another way around it. Your only other alternative is to take the house off the market until she decides she wishes to leave, or offer to buy her out on the condition she moves out.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Sep-17 @ 4:12 PM
Can anyone help. I seperated from my wife last year and she continued living in the property with our 2 children. Since then she has stated that she has no long term plans to remain in the property and she instructed me to have it put on the market. This happened six weeks ago. Since then whenever the estate agent has tried to contact her in relation to the sale all the calls and messages have gone unresponsive.I pay 100% of the mortgage and just want it sold so that I can get a place of my own but my ex wifeis making this very difficult. If I wanted to apply for a court order to force through the sale of the house what would my options be?
Darin - 5-Sep-17 @ 5:41 PM
A person was given a court order to return possessions he took from us within 14 days of the judgement. Despite our efforts he is not cooperating and we have not received our possessions back. The 14 days has now expired. What are the next steps now the order has not been complied with and what do we need to do?
Jane - 9-Aug-17 @ 6:26 PM
Cozzie - Your Question:
My son has split up from his girlfriend for about a year. They had bought a house together about 3 years ago and there is little equity in it. He agreed to her staying there as she was a student and he has contributed to house payments for the past year. She is however making life difficult for him, still wants to be with him and refuses to sell, let him buy it out or buy it out herself. He is very anxious and ill through this and he previously lost his well paid job. He now has another less well paid job but he's not coping well due to all the worry and her refusal to do anything. What can he do?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, unless your son's ex and him can agree, and she refuses to try to sort the matter out via mediation, then the matter would have to be taken to court for the court to decide. If the matter does go to court, it is wise to ask the court to ensure a time limit is put on the sale of the property. This would prevent (as best possible) his ex from trying to stall the sale or put off potential buyers. He should also speak directly to the mortgage company to inform them of the situation and ask for advice. Alternatively, a solicitor's letter to his ex outlining their situation and the costs to both of them, if he takes the matter to court may prompt his ex come to the negotiating table.
CourtroomAdvice - 4-Aug-17 @ 11:50 AM
My son has split up from his girlfriend for about a year.They had bought a house together about 3 years ago and there is little equity in it.He agreed to her staying there as she was a student and he has contributed to house payments for the past year.She is however making life difficult for him, still wants to be with him and refuses to sell, let him buy it out or buy it out herself.He is very anxious and ill through this and he previously lost his well paid job.He now has another less well paid job but he's not coping well due to all the worry and her refusal to do anything.What can he do?
Cozzie - 3-Aug-17 @ 8:59 PM
Not related to divorce. Can anyone point me in the right direction about how to get a court order to get a copy of my old passport application? I need a copy of to show who the countersignatory was for a court case against an old employer (who was the countersignatory). Passport office will not help without ex-employers permission which obviously he will not give.
Empire - 18-Jul-17 @ 6:29 AM
My partners ex wife has had the courts charge us with the fee from divorce (£1150) even though we said we were giving her the house as costs I'm worried as we are already paying £3000 worth of their marriage debts and child maintance we don't have the money to give her do the courts do a payment plan if so how do we do this?
Worried - 13-Jul-17 @ 6:59 PM
Grateful for advice. I need to get employment history for my late father in law from HMRC to sort out my mother in law's civil service widow's pension. I am told by HMRC that I need to get a Court Order before they will release the information, but what form do I use, what will the process cost, and should I employ a solicitor to do this? Thanks
Eddie - 13-Jul-17 @ 4:49 PM
ClarissaJ - Your Question:
Hi all,Ive a financial court order against my ex in relation to child maintenance payments. He resides in a non REMO country and not for any British companies. To get anything from him is a challenge each month. He has now invested money in property in the U.K. but paying little tax as he as other people's names on the mortgages. He's refusing now to pay his maintenance ordered by the court, even though he has it and as you can imagine this is putting us under financial strain. Is there anything I can do? Thanks all in advance

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to take the matter back to court to see if you can get it enforced. You would really need to seek some legal advice also, as you don't say whether the court order was made when or if he was resident in the UK, making it difficult to fully answer your question.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:43 AM
Hi all, Ive a financial court order against my ex in relation to child maintenance payments. He resides in a non REMO country and not for any British companies. To get anything from him is a challenge each month. He has now invested money in property in the U.K. but paying little tax as he as other people's names on the mortgages. He's refusing now to pay his maintenance ordered by the court, even though he has it and as you can imagine this is putting us under financial strain. Is there anything I can do? Thanks all in advance
ClarissaJ - 10-Jul-17 @ 5:57 PM
hi my ex partner of 21 years left when our daughter was 5. during financial settleme, although it was an equal slit, the judge put a charge on my current home of 35.5 percent of the value when our daughter reached 18. however he didnt keep up maintenance payments and when the judge ordered him to pay, he promptly made himself unemployed. of course he then didnt have to pay anything. my daughter is now 18 and he wants to enforce the charging order now, even though his daughter still lives at home with me. I want to go to court to apply for a variation on the percentage as I didnt get maintenance for her. My problem is that I cant find the form that need to do this. I even phoned the court but the form they told me to download didnt even exist. I want to know which form to se and also what do you think my chances are of winning ?
maxi - 30-Jun-17 @ 2:30 PM
@boots - I think it's a charging order N208, you'd have to double check. I think that's what I used anyway. If your husband is classed as the resident parent, the court won't sell your house until your kids are 18.
MikeY - 19-Jun-17 @ 4:04 PM
I am trying to find out the name number of the order that I need for the court to sale my home I have done a c100 and carcases more or less said I am unfit mother although I have worked with children all my life and currently work as welfare officers to 420 children every day . I have moved out of home and my ex has my son during the week and I have him 3 weekends out of 4 half of all holidays. any one who can give me any advice on this matter I would be grateful My son does not want to live with his father during the week and he would like to live with me during the week as he wants to attend school near me he will stating year7 so much for considering his wishes and feelings
boots - 19-Jun-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi.My ex husband took me to court in March to sort finances for our divorce.in the consent order it states he has to pay purchase the leasehold on our home through leasehold enfranchisement, pay me £500 a month child maintanence, put my name on the title deeds joint with his then after 6 months put in my name only. all of which he has failed to do and we are 3 months down the line. He decided that instead of paying maintanence he would pay the mortgage and give me the difference, I objected to this straight away as I had included child maintenance payments as income towards my mortgage offer to allow me after he had purchased the leasehold to release him from the mortgage it needs to show in my bank as per the court order, I showed him and his solicitor proof of this and they have ignored it. I'm now unsure which way to go, I don't have a solicitor as I cant afford it after the divorce.Do I need to do a separate enforcement order and an attachment of earning for the childmaintenance or just enforce the order overall.
debbs1910 - 2-Jun-17 @ 9:03 PM
Hi.My ex husband took me to court in March to sort finances for our divorce.in the consent order it states he has to pay purchase the leasehold on our home through leasehold enfranchisement, pay me £500 a month child maintanence, put my name on the title deeds joint with his then after 6 months put in my name only. all of which he has failed to do and we are 3 months down the line. He decided that instead of paying maintanence he would pay the mortgage and give me the difference, I objected to this straight away as I had included child maintenance payments as income towards my mortgage offer to allow me after he had purchased the leasehold to release him from the mortgage it needs to show in my bank as per the court order, I showed him and his solicitor proof of this and they have ignored it. I'm now unsure which way to go, I don't have a solicitor as I cant afford it after the divorce.Do I need to do a separate enforcement order and an attachment of earning for the childmaintenance or just enforce the order overall.
debbs1910 - 1-Jun-17 @ 9:19 PM
Hi.My ex husband took me to court in March to sort finances for our divorce.in the consent order it states he has to pay purchase the leasehold on our home through leasehold enfranchisement, pay me £500 a month child maintanence, put my name on the title deeds joint with his then after 6 months put in my name only. all of which he has failed to do and we are 3 months down the line. He decided that instead of paying maintanence he would pay the mortgage and give me the difference, I objected to this straight away as I had included child maintenance payments as income towards my mortgage offer to allow me after he had purchased the leasehold to release him from the mortgage it needs to show in my bank as per the court order, I showed him and his solicitor proof of this and they have ignored it. I'm now unsure which way to go, I don't have a solicitor as I cant afford it after the divorce.Do I need to do a separate enforcement order and an attachment of earning for the childmaintenance or just enforce the order overall.
debbs1910 - 1-Jun-17 @ 8:17 PM
Shuff - Your Question:
My husband has been paying £200 month to his ex wife for 15 years he is now retired and wants to stop it as he can't afford to pay it because we need to sort our mortgage out and try to pay it off , this payment was a settlement of the divorce so that she wouldn't have any say in his private pension. How do we go about this

Our Response:
Much depends upon what the court order specifies (if there is a court order involved) and how long it is set to last. Your husband's best course of action is to seek legal advice to see whether due to the circumstance change he can get a variation on the order.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-May-17 @ 10:44 AM
My husband has been paying £200 month to his ex wife for 15 years he is now retired and wants to stop it as he can't afford to pay it because we need to sort our mortgage out and try to pay it off , this payment was a settlement of the divorce so that she wouldn't have any say in his private pension . How do we go about this
Shuff - 29-May-17 @ 8:19 AM
Frustrated! ?? - Your Question:
Hi. Not sure what to do. My ex and I divorced approx 10 years ago. Finances were settled via a court order for payment to be made upon youngest child turning 18 which happens this year. She is now saying she cannot afford this (despite having a reminder letter sent in December - 6 months before this is first of it) and also that when we split our children's accounts, so I could have half of what we'd put in to start accounts myself for them, that was the settlement and I've had in in 'one way or another' this was before court order and not taken into consideration the £2000 comes from the settlement of the house which she couldn't pay at the time. So payment due at sons 18tg or upon sale of the house. I had to pay for the reminder letter so don't want to incur any more cost but having provided for my children at my home and never missed a maintenance payment I am reluctant to let it go. Can you please help??

Our Response:
Your question is a little confusing, but I will try to answer it the best I can. If your ex is, or is about to be in breach of the original court order, you can take the matter back to court to have the order enforced. However, it may be worth you seeking some legal advice regarding whether to proceed with this just yet as much depends upon whether your child is in full-time education which the court might rule in your ex's favour (until your son has finished his education). A court will always put the children first, so much depends upon this especially where a possible sale of the house may be concerned. Therefore, if you are going to take the matter back to court, you don't want to do it prematurely. You say you do not wish to incur any more costs, but unfortunately if your ex is in breach of the order and you want to have the order enforced, then your only option to pursue this is through court.
CourtroomAdvice - 13-Apr-17 @ 12:09 PM
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