I ve got a maintenance order but it s not being paid

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1 EX327 I ve got a maintenance order but it s not being paid Can this leaflet help me? This leaflet can help you if you have a maintenance order from a county court and the person who was ordered to pay you (the debtor) is not keeping to the order. This leaflet describes some of the ways you could try to enforce the maintenance order to get your money. But remember the following important points: If you have a High Court order, some of the procedures are slightly different from those described in this leaflet. Staff at the court where the order was made should be able to help you. This leaflet cannot help you if the Child Support Agency (CSA), the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) or a magistrates court decided the amount of maintenance you should receive. If the money you are owed under the CSA or CMEC is not being paid, phone their National Enquiry Line on (calls are charged at local rate). If an order from a magistrates court is not being paid, contact the court where the order was made. Further help The other leaflets mentioned are available from our website Court staff can also give you the forms you need, and can help you to fill them in. But they cannot give you legal advice. So they can t tell you which enforcement method would be best for you or if you are likely to succeed. If you have a solicitor, he or she will be able to help you. If not, you may be able to get help from a law centre, consumer advice centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. Court staff can tell you where to get help in your area. Fees A fee is payable for each of the options explained in this leaflet. For more information about fees, please refer to booklet EX50 Civil and Family Court Fees (High Court and County Court). This booklet lists the most common family fees. You can get a copy from any court office or from our website If you cannot afford to pay a court fee, you may be eligible for a fee remission in full or in part. The combined booklet and application form EX160A Court Fees do I have to pay them? gives all the information you need. You can get a copy from any court office or from our website Page 1

2 What are the options? Some options will help you to get payments that should have been made in the past (called arrears of maintenance ) and will also try to make sure that the debtor pays regularly in the future. These are: registering the order in a magistrates court, and an attachment of earnings order. Some of the options for getting your money will only help you to recover arrears. The ones described in this leaflet are: a warrant of execution a third party debt order a charging order, and a judgment summons. Remember, if the debtor owes more than one year s arrears, you will first need to ask the court for permission (or leave ) to make an enforcement application. Ask court staff how to do this. As a creditor you are able to apply for an order for such method of enforcement as the court considers appropriate. You could also try to find out more about the debtor s financial situation. Where do I apply? If you are not sure which court you need to apply to, or if you want general information, contact your local county court. Addresses and phone numbers are in the phone book under Courts. Please note that not all county courts can deal with every type of application. You may need to issue your application at a divorce county court. Your local court can give you the address and phone number of an appropriate divorce court. A full list of divorce courts is also available on our website at Registering the order in a magistrates court You can apply to the court where you got your maintenance order to have the order registered in a magistrates court. If you do not have a solicitor, this may be the easiest way of enforcing your order. The magistrates court will only be able to help you if you know where the debtor lives. How to register the order in a magistrates court Contact your local county court to find out where you can get an application form from. When you have got the form, fill it in as fully as possible. Then send two copies to the court which made the maintenance order. You will also need to send the fee or remission application with supporting evidence and a copy of the maintenance order. If you do not have a copy of the order, ask the court where it was made to send you one. Always give the court case or claim number. Page 2

3 The court will show your form to a district judge. If you have filled it in correctly, and the district judge agrees to your application, the magistrates court will register the order. From then on, the magistrates court will do what it can to make sure the debtor pays you. If there are any further problems, you will need to contact the magistrates court. You do not need to tell the debtor that you are making this application and the court where you make the application will not tell the debtor about it. The magistrates court will contact the debtor. Statements of truth For the following options you will need to give the court a statement of truth. This is a written statement which states that it is the truth. In the statement, you must say how much money you are owed and how you worked out that amount. If you have a solicitor, he or she will draw up the statement for you. If not, you may be able to get some help from a Citizens Advice Bureau or consumer advice centre. Court staff can help you fill in the first part of the statement with information from the court file (for example, people s names and the court case or claim number). Then you must write your statement. An attachment of earnings order With this order, the debtor s employer regularly takes money from the debtor s income. You should only apply for this order if the debtor is in regular paid work (not self-employed). You cannot apply for an attachment of earnings order if the debtor is a member of the armed forces (ask court staff for advice if this is the case). Applying for an attachment of earnings order To apply for an order, contact the county court where the maintenance order was made. However, if your maintenance order was made in the High Court, contact the county court nearest to where the debtor lives or works. You will need to fill in an application form ( request for an attachment of earnings order ) and return it to the court with your statement, the fee or remission application with supporting evidence, and a copy of the maintenance order. You will usually have to go to a hearing. At the hearing the district judge will decide whether to make the order and, if so, how much the debtor should pay each month. If the debtor does not attend the hearing, the district judge can order him or her to be present at another hearing. If the debtor does not attend this time, he or she can be arrested and brought to court. Once an attachment of earnings order has been made, the debtor s employer should send money to the court and the court will send it to you. The court can take action against the employer if he or she does not keep to the order. Page 3

4 A warrant of execution A warrant of execution allows a bailiff to visit the debtor s home or business. The bailiff will try to either: collect the money the debtor owes you, or take goods to sell at auction. Applying for a warrant of execution If you would like more information on this option, read leaflet EX322 How do I ask for a warrant of execution? A third party debt order, or a charging order A third party debt order freezes money in the debtor s bank or building society account. The court may then order payment of the available funds to you straight from the debtor s account. A charging order prevents the debtor from selling his or her home or land until they have paid the money they owe you. Applying for a third party debt order or a charging order If you want more information about these orders, read leaflet EX325 Third party debt orders and charging orders how do I apply for an order? Remember, third party debt orders and charging orders can be complicated, especially if the court has already made orders about property and finances. You may need legal advice. A judgment summons With a judgment summons, the debtor could be sent to prison if they do not pay the amount they owe you. The judge will only send the debtor to prison if you can prove that the debtor has, or has had the means to pay the sum and refuses or neglects to pay it. This may be difficult to prove. If you cannot prove it, you may have to pay the debtor s legal costs. Applying for a judgment summons You can make this application in any divorce county court (see page 2 for information on how to find a divorce county court). But if you make it in a different court from where the maintenance order was made, remember to get a copy of the order and attach it to your statement. Ask the court for a form for a judgment summons. The court bailiff will give the summons to the debtor. The court will arrange a hearing. At the hearing the judge can: send the debtor to prison for up to 6 weeks make a suspended order (this means the debtor will not go to prison if he or she pays you the money all at once or by instalments) Page 4

5 make a new order for payment, or fix a new date for a hearing if the debtor does not attend. Remember, the judgment summons procedure can be complicated and you may find you need a solicitor s help. Applying for the court to decide on the method of enforcement If you would like the court decide how the order should be enforced you should complete form D50K Notice of Application for Enforcement by such method of enforcement as the court may consider appropriate. The debtor will be required to attend a hearing. The judge will then decide how the order will be enforced. What can I do if I have no information about the debtor s finances? If you are not sure about the best option, it may be helpful to ask the court for an order to obtain information from a judgment debtor. This is a way of finding out about the debtor s financial situation. If you want to find out more about applying for an order to obtain information from a judgment debtor, ask the court for leaflet EX324 Orders to obtain information how do I apply for an order? If your maintenance order was made in the High Court, apply to the place where it was made. If your maintenance order was made in a county court, apply to the divorce court nearest to where the debtor lives or works (your local county court can tell you which court this is). If the application is not made to the court that made the original order, you will need to complete a statement and exhibit a copy of the order to it. You may need to get advice from a solicitor on how to do this. Scotland and Northern Ireland If your maintenance order was made in Scotland or Northern Ireland, but the debtor lives in England or Wales, you must register the order in an English or Welsh court before you can enforce it. If your order was made in England or Wales, but the debtor lives in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you must register it in Scotland or Northern Ireland first. Court staff will be able to tell you how to do this. Other countries If the debtor now lives outside the United Kingdom, or if the order was made outside the United Kingdom, you may still be able to enforce it. Some countries have an agreement with the UK so that orders made there can be registered here and vice versa. Page 5

6 For more information about international maintenance claims contact: Official Solicitor and Public Trustee REMO Unit 8 Chancery Lane London WC A DD Phone: (UK only calls charged at local rate) Fax number: This leaflet can only give you a general idea of enforcement options. It cannot completely explain court rules and procedures. EX327 I ve got a maintenance order but it s not being paid (04.11) Crown Copyright 2011 Page 6

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