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A Guide to Court Orders

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 12 Sep 2019 | 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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I need a court order to cancel my daughter's British passport as my former partner has ran away with my daughter overseas.I need advice on the appropriate court order, to be processed through the High Court or Magistrate Court. The UK passport office has requested for a court order, to be processed, instructing them, based on a court order, before they can cancel my daughter's British passport. I need the appropriate court order, to effect the cancellation of my daughter's British passport. I have already reported this matter to the Metropolitan Police last year and the UK Home Office. Kindly note. Can you advice? I look forward to your feedback. Thank you. Kind Regards, James Bradford
James Bradford - 12-Sep-19 @ 4:01 PM
Does a Uk court order hold up in America
Chickie - 24-Aug-19 @ 12:28 AM
Court order from years ago, ex husband disappeared 23 years ago, now lives in America, i have found him, was for my children, note they have no interest but i still wonder if the court order would still stand, i think he is a British citizen still, not 100% sure, thanks
Chickie - 24-Aug-19 @ 12:27 AM
I read sentenced to 6 weeks curfew and the court has made a clerical error with the paperwork sent to the tag people! It says 6weeks curfew but the end date is 7 weeks after, so am I in breach if I don't adhere after the sentence date passes?
nem351s - 23-Aug-19 @ 6:43 PM
My mum has a residency order for my child I want it lifted and want to learn more about the law how?
Louise - 19-Jul-19 @ 11:57 PM
My ex-husband doesn't want to comply with a court order that was put in place with the judge concerning a mortgage we have together. He wants a bigger percentage than what the court agreed as part of our financial settlement. What am I supposed to do and what 'form' should I be filling?
Toyotta - 25-Jun-19 @ 10:51 PM
If you don’t go to court and the judge makes a decision on the court order do you get a letter detailing the court order? Wondering for my assignment.
Saf - 14-Jun-19 @ 9:50 PM
My sons father is going for a court order to gain access to his son due to me changing it to supervised visits. He went to one mediation appt but did not wait for me to attend my appt before he told mediation that he no longer wanted to continue with mediation. He is now saying he is going to court, how long does it usually take to receive a letter saying he is taking me to court
Cassandra - 28-May-19 @ 3:20 PM
Hi my sons dad is going for a change in court order, we had one in place which resulted in a 2 week order of week 1 Saturday 3pm till Monday 3pm an Thursday 8-4 an week 2 a Sunday 8am till Monday 4pm and Thursday 8-4, we dropped a Thursday as his shift changed an he had him Saturday till Monday, although my circumstances have changed an hes going to court for 10am Saturday until 3pm Monday every weekend, I didn't work when the order was made or changed mutually between us, but I now work, my son is almost full time school in September, so I feel every weekend isnt fair as he will be in school every day then with his dad every weekend, I cant do things as a family with him, he can c his cousins, me my partner and his son cant do family things because he isnt there, I hardly work weekends myself nowan i want some time with him on a weekend also
Lmlewis - 9-May-19 @ 6:48 PM
FATHER ENDiNG '" DEFINED COURT ORDER " WITHOUT WARNING / CONSULTATION WITH MOTHER. In 2001 My Daughter And I Had To Leave Her Violent Father. My Father Contacted A Solicitor - Letters Correspondence Between Solicitor / My Father / My Former Co - Habitor / Partner. I Kept My Side Of The ' Full Parental Responsibility ' - He Was Given ' Partial Parental Responsibility ' . I Allowed Him To Have " Supervised At Family Centre / Unsupervised Visits And A ' Defined Court Order 2003 ' - Weekends And School Holidays ' . The Thing Is I Have Lost My Copy Of ' All Letters Correspondance Etc and ' The Defined Court Order ' Details ' . Solicitor Policy - Files Only Kept For 6 Years. In 2007 He ' Suggested That Sarah Should Live Him Until I Got Better '. I Was Ill With M.E / Chronic Fatigue ' - Came Back Because He Subjected Me To Domestic Violence For Nearly 5 Years. Because He Was Very ' Coercive And Emotionally Manipulative ' - I Knew If I Have In And Let Him Have Sarah Live With Him Temporarily - I Would Never See Her Again. So I Contacted The Same Solicitor My Dad Originally Contacted In 2001. A ' File Note ' Was Made - And A Letter To Sarah's Father -Which I Still Have - Explaining To Him He Didn't ' Strictly Adhered To The ' Defined Court Order 2003 "Because He Violently Harassed Me ( And Sarah )At A Train Station -He Was Demanding To See Sarah More ' Without Using Court Order ' / Something Like That - I Can't Remember Exactly Because The Incident Was Very Traumatic For Me And Sarah. I Continued To Let Him See Sarah - He Said ' Sundays ' Near Where I Lived / Because Were Both In Receipt Of ' Welfare ' - I Couldn't Help Pay For His Bus Fare '. Then In March / April 2008- He Just Suddenly Stopped Visiting Sarah - With No Warring To Me / Consultation With Me. Sarah Said In His Words ' I Didn't Think You Be Interested In Seeing Me Anymore " But Sarah Was Just 11 And Half Yrs Old. I Didn't Hear From Him For Over 3 Years. Then In Oct 2011 - 11 Weeks After My Younger Sister Maria Died From Cancer - Sarah's Father Phoned Me To Say He Had Met Another Woman Called AngelaAnd That They Had Got Engaged. 2012 - Sarah Was Missing Her Father - She Asked Me To Phone Him - He Said' I Can't Visit / I Moved To Devon ". But On ' Find My Past ' Genealogy Website '- I Found Him And Partner, Angelina And A Relative Of Hers, Roland - 2012 Electoral Roll - ' For The Same Address In Keighley - The Address He Gave Me When He Phoned Me In 2011 - But On The ' Electoral Roll ' / He Lied About His Age. I Phoned His Mobile And Landline Numbers - They No Longer Exist. I Was Able To Contact In - Laws I Found On- Line - They Had No Idea What He Did To Me. He Was In Lowestoft, Suffolk / He Didn't Attend ' Family Funerals ' - They Don't Wnat Anything To Do With Him Since He Received Money From One Of The Parent's ' Wills ' Then Xmas 2018 - He Was Back In Bradford - It Was A Horrible Shock !! But
Aurora B - 8-May-19 @ 8:06 PM
My ex and I attended our first hearing on 3rd May, however I have not received the order yet due to additions they were putting in for ex to comply with. He applied for every other weekend plus Tuesday and Thursday nights. He was awarded 10-2 Saturday only due to not having any communication with our babies for over 3 months. A slow integration for the children (as they need daddy in their life). Our eldest has many challenges so is very difficult for her to adapt to change and quicklybecomes overwhelmed. Ex picked her up for the first visit on the 4th May and spent the entire 4 hours with his girlfriend and the kids (2nd time kids meeting her), our eldest has had several meltdowns since returning. She’s very confused. I won’t receive my order until late next week when ex is supposed to collect them. I would like the children to see their daddy but not with his new girlfriend at this time. It’s affecting our eldest emotionally so what are my options here please? (I’m not sure if it is written in the order as the hearing was quite quick)
Kay - 6-May-19 @ 10:58 AM
My husband and i are getting a divorce. We live in a council house we have no children and no savings. I work part time and now my husband is out of work. How much will it cost for a property order to be for me to remove his name off the tenancy agreement.
Jane - 11-Apr-19 @ 5:10 PM
Hello, My father died last Saturday 6 April. My sister has obtained a court order to stop me from attending a religious funeral ceremony at my Dad's house. Will I get a copy of the court order from the Court? Can I appeal or take any action? Thank you.
Ash - 10-Apr-19 @ 12:22 PM
My wife, unfortunately, signed a compromise agreement whilst at a remedy hearing after winning her ET case against her former employer in 2011 and after to payments he breached the agreement finally in May 2018 a court order was made for full payment however a variation application was made and in October 2018 it was granted and a set monthly payment plan was put in place. The most recent instalment was paid along with another instalment however a few days later his solicitor sent a letter stating a banking error was to blame and to either return the instalment or keep the instalment and miss next months instalment. My question is..regardless of the excuses made on behalf of the debtor can we enforce a breach of the court order for a missed payment under the above circumstances?
Craig - 18-Mar-19 @ 10:09 PM
I need some clarification on what the date of the court order is. I had a hearing on 19 december 2018 and the judge order the other party to file evidence within 7 days of the date of the court order. I would like to know that the date of this court order - is it 19 december 2018.Also when does the 7 days start from? is it seven days from the date of 18 december 2018 please ? Also is a court order meant to be on a piece of paper stating court orderor can it simply be added onto another letter eg hearing notice and not be titled court order? The court appear to have made a mistake and stated that the 7 days starts from the date or typing up the order (several weeks after 19 december 2018) and not 7 days from 18 december 2018. If the court havemade a mistake then how do I get it corrected? Does it need to go to a judge? I would be grateful for your help. It makes a difference to
fiona - 18-Mar-19 @ 6:22 PM
My ex husband has a court order to be able to see only the youngest child for few hours every two weeks. I had asked for his residential address just to make sure I have details in case he doesn't return the child. He sent a letter from housing association confirming he lives at an address which I realised was forged as the phone number went to a cab office, email address didn't exist, called the housing association and they confirmed they didn't send the letter at all. I have reported the matter to police but I'm not sure what to do regarding the court order
Tas - 3-Mar-19 @ 10:26 PM
I do not want to stop contact / access with dad but want to stop him from using children as a pawn by stopping them from seeing me until he feels I can see them again when he doesn't like something I've done with my life, I have applied for residency on the basis that it stops emotional abuse towards myself and stops temptation of him to use it as a way to control me.
Lids - 10-Nov-18 @ 3:28 AM
The court ordered the ex wife to sell the family house which we both own but she has resided in for last 3 yearsforthwith by 30 August she since has changed the locks on the property and is not cooperating with the estate agents by not allowing them to enter the property to market it or not responding to calls she is completely breaking the law and breaching the court order. How do I rectify this issue call the police or the court and if the court what forms do I need to ask for ?
Madatit - 3-Sep-18 @ 5:42 PM
xcplumcx - Your Question:
My sister and I have a joint property and a judgement was made it was to be sold 10 years ago. she is still refusing to move or sell and I want out. what steps can I take now to end this

Our Response:
Unfortunately, you would have to refer the matter back to court to have the order enforced.
CourtroomAdvice - 3-Sep-18 @ 2:12 PM
my sister and i have a joint property and a judgement was made it was to be sold 10 years ago. she is still refusing to move or sell and i want out. what steps can i take now to end this
xcplumcx - 31-Aug-18 @ 12:12 AM
Hi,My ex-husband broke the final financial Court Order two weeks after it was made by adding his name to the deeds of my property after the fact, via the back door and on a technicality in 2008. I took him to Court twice as it took a Penal Notice to get him to comply. I finally got rid of him in 2015.For 8 yrs and 3 months I had to pay for a house I couldn't live in (buy to let) mortgage, let (as he was joint owner and would have had half of rental income) and couldn't sell either! I have made a court application to take this back to court as I have a Court Order which proves that he acted against the Spirit of the Order and in so doing changed the outcome.I have a child (his son) with profound special needs and he has indirect contact only leaving me with all of the day-to-day care so I cannot work as I am a full time carer. I have received an obnoxious email via his legal representative attaching a Form H advising me that my application is vexatious and they will ask the court to make me pay £1,500.00 court expenses. The Original court order was broken 2 weeks after issue and my original Solicitor said she acted on the information available at the time and in good faith.I contacted the Building Society, the Land Registry, financial Ombudsman and two Solicitors and no-one would take responsibility or accountability.I took it back myself in the end as Litigant in Person. If it was broken, surely there is no 'clean beak' settlement?
Ginger - 29-May-18 @ 4:43 PM
I took my ex to court for debts he ran up whilst living in my home when we split, the court ordered he pay me back and gave him 2 years to pay the total amount. 3 weeks before the court order date was up he fled the country leaving his house to be repossessed and approx £180,000 in other debts. He is now living in Spain if there anyway I can still try and get him to meet the agreements of the court order even though he is now not in the UK ?
Gilly - 28-May-18 @ 5:04 PM
Bevvy - Your Question:
Hi - I was in a 9yr relationship with my ex-boyfriend until he read something on my phone. What he read was totally innocent, but he didn't ask me about it and litterly took matters into his own hands and I was beaten up in September 2017. He threw me out of his home and his sisters packed my clothes, shoes and toiletries leaving behind all my personal documents,inc: family inhertance papers, original mortgage documents (for my property) etc, etc. I have tried everything apart from sending a pigeon and he refuses to respond. I tried a couple of his siblings, but blood runs thicker than water, resulting in one of his sister's threatening me saying; "in order to get the best result, grow up and stop talking to people, he's a private person and you're upsetting him." she was trying to retrieve my things but since blocked/deleted my number. Oh! one other thing. the police are not doing anything and when I call them they just keep telling me to call 101 and state my CAD number. I'm mentally exhausted with this now and need closure, I'd like him to receive a letter from a court, how do I go about this? Thank you

Our Response:
A court will not issue a letter, a court will only issue a judgement. You can ask a solicitor to write a letter requesting access and your belongings. Or, you can ask the police to accompany you to the house while you remove items that are yours.
CourtroomAdvice - 27-Apr-18 @ 2:24 PM
Hi - I was in a 9yr relationship with my ex-boyfriend until he read something on my phone.What he read was totally innocent, but he didn't ask me about it and litterly took matters into his own hands and I was beaten up in September 2017.He threw me out of his home and his sisters packed my clothes, shoes and toiletries leaving behind all my personal documents,inc: family inhertance papers, original mortgage documents (for my property) etc, etc.I have tried everything apart from sending a pigeon and he refuses to respond.I tried a couple of his siblings, but blood runs thicker than water, resulting in one of his sister's threatening me saying; "in order to get the best result, grow up and stop talking to people, he's a private person and you're upsetting him."she was trying to retrieve my things but since blocked/deleted my number.Oh! one other thing ...... the police are not doing anything and when I call them they just keep telling me to call 101 and state my CAD number.I'm mentally exhausted with this now and need closure, I'd like him to receive a letter from a court, how do I go about this?Thank you
Bevvy - 20-Apr-18 @ 4:51 PM
@Mads - what a tragic situation. There is nothing you can do pre-emptively - you would have to wait until to see if such a situation arises before you take any action (which your solicitors would advise). Hopefully, it wont come to that.
FioNah - 19-Apr-18 @ 11:49 AM
My mother died in 2016. Her and her partner of 30 yrs (they weren't married) ran a quest house which they also lived in. Her partner has continued to run the business and has since married his new partner. The house has remained in his and my mothers names. My mother died without leaving a will and I have obtained grant of representation. We now wish to sell the property and it is currently on the market however my mothers partner has recently discovered that he has terminal cancer and it appears that he may die before the house is sold. I would expect that he has made provision in his will for his new wife and that she will inherit his half share of the house while my sister and I will inherit the other half share. We do have a good relationship with them both but need to consider the possibility that if he does die his new wife may decide that she wants to remain in the property although she would be unable to run it as a business. It has been suggested to me that we may have to obtain a court order in case this happens but I am unsure what that means or if it is even the right course of action. We also have to consider that there is a very small amount remaining of a mortgage and if who would be responsible for that if she remains in the house. I hope that this can be resolved amicably but feel I should be prepared should this not be the case! Hope someone out there can shed some light!
Mads - 18-Apr-18 @ 8:16 PM
I have become a victim of Fraud with a Phone company. Investigations confirmed the Fraud happened . In order to implicate suspect , need to get some contact reports which phone network had with the Suspect and vice versa,from the phone company . When requested from the phone company , they toldto submit a COURT ORDER to give the report . Please help me how to get A court order in this regard ?
hasni - 30-Mar-18 @ 12:18 PM
I divorced my husband and I agreed to sell my share of our business to him (I didn't have much choice in this!)in return as part of the settlement was that he paid any personal taxes which I incurred. I have now received a tax bill with 24 hours notice and has to be paid immediately.He is avoiding me and from past issues I know he will avoiding paying. What do I need to do to ensure he carries out theconditions of the court order? May
may - 5-Feb-18 @ 6:55 PM
@MarkyW - it's something that is an issue for lots of us. The thing is, a court can allow the parent looking after the kids to stay in the house until they finish school. I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but she might be able to stay in the house until your your son is 18. Then you should get the house back. I'd have taken it to court when she moved her man in. The court may have prevented this from happening. I'd still seek legal advice, as it's not fair they should both live in your house rent free. The court might be sympathetic to your plight. I sympathise - Rob.
RD - 26-Jan-18 @ 12:10 PM
Markyw Wrote: Really hoping that someone has been in a similar situation or knows something about this as I am losing ALL hope in solicitors and the court system. My ex wife lives in our martial home with our 7 year old son and her new boyfriend who works full time. (who my son hates, but that's for a different part of the forum!) She has no rent or mortgage to pay as I owned the house outright before I met her.  When we first decided to divorce it was all quite amicable and we agreed to sell the house and spilt the money 50/50.  I agreed to stay with my parents until this was done.  I had an agreement drawn up with a solicitor and she was happy with this until.......she went on holiday, met this guy (the new boyfriend) and next thing I know she'd refusing to sell the house and has moved him in. I would never see my son unhappy so I then proposed that we do a 60 (for her)/40 spilt of the money but she still refuses to sell. I have worked out that she would have enough money to privately rent in the same area for about 25 years with the 60% she would get.  My son is unhappy living where he is anyway so it is not making it any better for him to stay there. She just wants to basically live in this house rent free. Until it is sold I have literally nothing. If my parents had not let me stay I would be in a hostel.  What can I do.  Please can anyone help I'm getting to the end of my tether and losing all hope. Mark
MarkyW - 25-Jan-18 @ 7:34 PM
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