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A Guide to Court Orders

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 14 Dec 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]
Court - Your Question:
There is a court order in place that my ex sees my daughter (my solicitor advised me not to take ex so he took me ) I comply with the order every single week but he hasn't ? What could I do or can he take me back at any time ? Help , he's been threatening me for no reason

Our Response:
If you comply to the terms of the court order, you are not in breach of the order and your ex has no recourse to refer the matter back to the courts. Only if you breach the terms of the order does your ex have grounds to refer the matter back to court.
CourtroomAdvice - 15-Dec-17 @ 12:48 PM
There is a court order in place that my ex sees my daughter(my solicitor advised me not to take ex so he took me ) I comply with the order every single week but he hasn't ? What could I do or can he take me back at any time ? Help , he's been threatening me for no reason
Court - 14-Dec-17 @ 7:53 PM
Janey- Your Question:
I was divorced 3 years ago we have a financial order re house and maintenance my ex pays all monies are in place no problem. But I was suppose to move year ago but we made an agreement that as long as he’s paying the correct amount towards the Kids and housing which he does I can stay in House for kids sake. Have I breached order? Even though we have agreed on all of the above?

Our Response:
Any changes to a contact order must be agreed by both parties. One party cannot unilaterally decide to change the order or apply additional terms. Therefore, if you have both agreed, while the order may be theoretically breached it is done so in agreement. If you want to secure this new agreement, you may wish to consider mediation.
CourtroomAdvice - 5-Dec-17 @ 3:12 PM
I was divorced 3 years ago we have a financial order re house and maintenance my ex pays all monies are in place no problem. But I was suppose to move year ago but we made an agreement that as long as he’s paying the correct amount towards the Kids and housing which he does I can stay in House for kids sake. Have I breached order? Even though we have agreed on all of the above?
Janey - 5-Dec-17 @ 1:31 PM
Mikey - Your Question:
Hi, I split with my partner 6 months ago and we were co habiting but she decided to go to move to her parents a few weeks ago. We have a dog which we jointly own and she took her with her, despite numerous requests to see or have the dog they have all been ignored and she no longer has any contact with me. Would there be any kind of court order for joint ownership or even access to the dog? Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
You could certainly seek legal advice about taking the matter to court. However, this will cost.
CourtroomAdvice - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:29 AM
Hi, I split with my partner 6 months ago and we were co habiting but she decided to go to move to her parents a few weeks ago. We have a dog which we jointly own and she took her with her, despite numerous requests to see or have the dog they have all been ignored and she no longer has any contact with me. Would there be any kind of court order for joint ownership or even access to the dog? Thanks in advance.
Mikey - 20-Nov-17 @ 4:50 PM
Gaz - Your Question:
I recently split with my ex and she agreed to pay half the mortgage but still isn't doing so. Can I apply for a court order that states she must pay her half?

Our Response:
Even though there is a contract in place, it is understandable when one person moves out of a jointly-owned home that they no longer wish to contribute to their share of the mortgage, especially if they are having to pay to live somewhere else. Much depends upon whether you have children between you, what your ex's financial situation is and whether she has the money to continue to contribute. However, much also depends upon what you both wish to do about the house, whether you wish to sell, or whether you can buy her out. Please see link here, which may help further answer your question. Court is always seen as a last resort, so further negotiation would be better first and if you cannot agree between you, you could suggest mediation. Also, you may wish to speak with your mortgage company and inform it of your separation. Your mortage company may be able to discuss a short term solution.
CourtroomAdvice - 20-Nov-17 @ 11:30 AM
I recently split with my ex and she agreed to pay half the mortgage but still isn't doing so. Can I apply for a court order that states she must pay her half?
Gaz - 19-Nov-17 @ 11:24 AM
I have a court order in place with my ex partner to see our child. He has to be supervised by his parents. My daughter was keep coming back upset and telling me her dad was kicking off in front of her. Because this was keep happening my daughter refused to go with her dad at school and carried on. I sat and talked to her shes scared and thinks he's going to hurt me or anyone. My daughter still hasn't gone for the past 6 weeks and I have seen my solicitor and we suspended the order but the court order still stands. I don't know what else to do. I went to my daughters school to pick her up as normal and her dad was there I just let my daughter see if she would like to go with him but she was keep saying no and came to me. Her dad got abit angry and ran at us this made my daughter scared. His behaviour and in front of his parents makes me scared of what is going on while she has been in contact. Now I don't know what to do next please give me advice
. - 18-Nov-17 @ 10:16 PM
Roma - Your Question:
I signed a court order after a divorce 10 years ago under a lot of stress so I wasn't really aware of what I was signing. The court order stated that when our youngest son reached 18 that the house should be split and the equity be divided 50-50. My ex put money from our previous house into the house that I then lived in with the two children and my new partner. My partner and I have been paying the mortgage and the for the upkeep of the house for 15 years. My ex now want s his 50% according to the court order but we feel that the money we have paid on the mortgage and up keep should be deducted from his share of the equity. Our solicitors are saying that as it is written on the court order there is nothing we can do. Any advice would be welcome

Our Response:
If you wish to challenge the previous court order, you would have to refer the matter back to court.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:23 AM
I signed a court order after a divorce 10 years ago under a lot of stress so I wasn't really aware of what I was signing. The court order stated that when our youngest son reached 18 that the house should be split and the equity be divided 50-50.My ex put money from our previous house into the house that I then lived in with the two children and my new partner. My partner and I have been paying the mortgage and the for the upkeep of the house for 15 years. My ex now want s his 50% according to the court order but we feel that the money we have paid on the mortgage and up keep should be deducted from his share of the equity. Our solicitors are saying that as it is written on the court order there is nothing we can do. Any advice would be welcome
Roma - 15-Nov-17 @ 5:30 PM
@Melly - it's likely it will be forever, unless your son is allowed to appeal.
HJ - 9-Nov-17 @ 12:33 PM
My son's girlfriend has a child which the father refused to return home. It has now been to court and the court have arranged on which days the father can see his son. Due to allegations that my son is violentwith no proof the court have ordered that my son is not allowed any contact with his girlfriends son. Can this ordered be overturned or will it last for ever.
Melly - 8-Nov-17 @ 7:15 PM
East - Your Question:
Hi am just wondering if someone could help me please.I spilt up with my husband 9 years ago.i AVE got a court order on the house he lives in.that once my son turns 18 the property should go for sale.am just wondering. How do I get the court order to make him sell.

Our Response:
A letter/solicitor's letter instructing your ex to sell in line with the terms of the court order should help. If your ex refuses, he will be in breach of the court order, in which case the matter would have to be referred back to court.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Oct-17 @ 3:28 PM
Hi am just wondering if someone could help me please .I spilt up with my husband 9 years ago.i AVE got a court order on the house he lives in .that once my son turns 18 the property should go for sale .am just wondering. How do I get the court order to make him sell .
East - 27-Oct-17 @ 6:39 PM
@Barry - this sounds like such a sad situation to find yourself in. The only people that gain in a court case are solicitors, so if you can avoid this, then yes do it rather than both of your equity going into their pockets. Someone really needs to speak some sense into your son if he hasn't paid the mortgage in over 13 of the 15 years you both have owned the house and he is expecting 50% of the equity. Have you thought about some kind of mediation process to try to settle this out of court? :(
AmyH - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:24 AM
I purchased a house, tenants in common, with my son 15 years ago ,he paid for the 1st 5 yearend then left and I agreed to continue to pay the full mortgage.He is now looking to force the sale of the house and has employed a solicitor.We have been unable to agree a settlement to suit and his solicitor is now getting a court order and threatening me with substantial legal costs.As I'm older and if I cannot agree a settlement ,I fear the costs of a solicitor for me as well as his costs.If necessary can I just put it on the open market giving him details of the estate agent and access to negotiations to avoid costly court proceedings accepting that it will only split at 50/50.
Barry - 23-Oct-17 @ 2:25 PM
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
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