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ExperiencedLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  I have 14+ years of experience as a family lawyer, advising people on all kinds of relationship and family law issues.
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Hi, I am trying to find out how I can enforce a consent order.

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Hi, I am trying to find out how I can enforce a consent order. I divorced from my husband in 2007 and we had a consent order in which he had to pay maintenance towards my daughter. At the time he was not in permanent employment so we agreed he would start paying as and when he could. In 2008 I moved abroad and only returned to the UK two months ago. I thought I couldn't pursue the matter though the legal system while I was away and at the same time he kept promising to start paying. Eventually he did start making a contribution last year (£90 per month). Now I am back I have asked him to catch up on the arrears. He is denying any responsibility to do so. I am immensely frustrated as I showed good will and understanding and he has completely abused it.
I would love to know what advice you could give me!
Hello Lorna,
My name is Mac. I can help you with your question. First I need a bit more information:
- what did/does the order say he should be paying in respect of maintenance for your daughter? For example, does it say he should be paying £90 per month?
(If it is easier to paste in the wording of that paragraph, please do so.)
- how old is your daughter now?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi my daughter is 9 (10 on 1st May).

The order said:

The respondent shall pay periodical payments to the Petitioner for the benefit of Lucinda Sophia Gay (d.o.b. 1.5.05) at the rate of £1,200 per annum. Payments shall be made monthly in advance on the 1st day of each month. They shall commence on 1 November 2006. They shall end on the later of the child 1) reaching the age of eighteen; or 2) (if later) ceasing full-time tertiary education to the end of first degree course payments to continue during any period of up to sixteen months from the date on which secondary education is concluded and for so long as the child shall intend to commence tertiary education at the end of that period unless the court makes an order for the payments to continue to a later date.

The quantum of periodical payments referred to at paragraph 3 above shall be reviewed on 15 March 2007 and in default of agreement between the parties the Petitioner shall apply to the CSA for an assessment.

On "the variation date" the amount of periodical payments set out in paragraph 3 or any amount substituted by virtue of agreement or assessement will stand varied automatically. The change in the payments shall be the increase, if any, between the retail prices index for August 2006 which stands at 199.2 and the retail price index for the month three months before the variation date.

The rule is that you are automatically entitled to arrears that have built up in the last 12 months, but that anything older than that has been assumed to have been forgiven by you.
When calculating the arrears, you should bear in mind that the amount he is suppposed to be paying at the moment is likely to have been increased by reference to the retail prices index (as set out in your last paragraph above and paragraph 3). For your information the RPI at August 2013 was 251.9, which would mean that the amount he should have been paying each month for the last 12 months was £126.46 (and went up again this month to £129. It is not that difficult to file an application for the arrears, and your local family court could tell you what form to complete.
Going forward, if either of you make an application to the CSA, their calculation will automatically replace the Court order in this respect - you can calculate what that would be using this website (if you know his income).
ExperiencedLawyer and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for this information. It is totally frustrating that because I trusted him to make good his debt to me, I am left out of pocket and he can get away without paying. Can I ask if it is possible for me to pursue this debt in a different manner such as through the civil court?

We have now made an application to the CSA but I think he is not declaring his full income in the application but I am in contact with the CSA about this.

Many thanks,


Hello Lorna,
I agree that the outcome can be frustrating sometimes, unfortunately the law is a pretty blunt tool and doesn't fit every situation perfectly.
There is no merit in making an application in a normal civil court instead.
However, there is no harm in you making an application for arrears going further back than 12 months, on the basis that the agreement between the two of you was that you would hold off chasing him for the money on the understanding that he would pay it back later. A court might possibly have sympathy with that, and it might also put enough pressure on him to mean that you can negotiate an agreement whereby you get back more than the straightforward 12 months. It could be worth a try, particularly if you represent yourself and so don't incur substantial legal fees doing it.
I wish you the best of luck.