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My ex-partner won’t pay for the children but I have a court order saying he has to. What are my rights?

If your ex-partner either stops paying the money you agreed, or reduces the amount of money agreed in the court order, it is important that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Your solicitor should try to re-negotiate the order with your ex-partner’s solicitors before you go to court. If this doesn’t work, then it will be necessary for you both to go to court.

There are various enforcement methods available to you if your previous partner will not co-operate with the child maintenance order and it is under 12 months old. These include a charging order (attempting to attach a charge against land), attachment of earnings (money can be deducted from the payer’s salary), a third party debt order (attempting to seize money), warrants of possession or execution (seize goods or secure possession of premises) or petitioning for the debtor’s bankruptcy.

The most used of these is the attachment of earnings order, where the employer of your ex-partner is told to deduct the maintenance from your ex-partner’s salary every month and then pay it to you. This would not work, however, if your ex-partner was self-employed.

If there is enough money in your ex-partner’s account and you have their bank details, you can apply for a third party debt order which will tell the bank to take the money out of your ex-partner’s account to pay it to you.

A charging order would mean that you have a charge against your ex-partner’s property. Both the third party debt order and the charging order only work for maintenance payments that haven’t been paid in the past – they can’t help you with your future payments.

If nothing else works, you could ask the court that your ex-partner be imprisoned. However, courts rarely use this punishment.

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