Enforcing International Financial Orders
The international enforcement of financial orders or settlements is a highly complex area of family law. Some countries have more than one way of enforcing an international financial settlement and in others there is no way to enforce.
What options do I have to enforce my international financial settlement?
This will really depend on the facts and circumstances of your case but the following is a good starting point:
- For cases involving other parts of the UK there are reciprocal enforcement arrangements of maintenance orders in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- For cases involving the European Union before Brexit, it may be still possible to apply to the relevant court to recognise and enforce your international financial settlement.
- For cases involving the European Union post Brexit or other countries outside the EU, this will really be country specific so specialist international family law will need to be obtained from a lawyer in that jurisdiction.
What is the difference between a provisional order or a final order for international enforcement?
A provisional order is an order which has been made by one country in the absence of the debtor (the person who needs to make the payment) and is then sent to the country of that debtor where it is then confirmed or not. If it is confirmed by the court of the debtor, then it is a final order.
In England and Wales, a foreign financial order/settlement can only be enforced if it is a final order.
I have an international financial settlement for a lump sum of money and property, how do I enforce this?
It can be problematic to enforce an English order against foreign property. The order may be capable of being enforced against the party but if they are living overseas then that might be a problem.
If there are no reciprocal enforcement arrangements for your international financial settlement then you need to check with a local international family lawyer about whether the laws of that country will allow enforcement of the foreign financial order/settlement.
Do I enforce my international financial order/settlement in the English High Court or Family Court?
Specialist family law advice is needed because:
- It is only possible to enforce some financial orders or settlements in the English High Court.
- Most foreign maintenance orders however are enforced via the Family Court.
Can my international family settlement be varied?
This depends on the family laws of the country enforcing the original financial order/settlement. That country may have power to vary your international financial order/settlement. Each countries reciprocal enforcement arrangements can be different.
Can a country refuse to recognise and/or enforce my international financial settlement/order?
The concept of recognition and enforcement are separate and distinct. For example, a foreign country could recognise your financial settlement but refuse to enforce it.
You will need to check the grounds on which the reciprocating country can refuse to recognise an order made in England and Wales. Specialist international family law advice is needed.
What steps should I take to avoid problems with my international financial settlement?
It is prudent to seek advice from international family lawyers in each country before the order or settlement is made.
As part of your negotiations, you should consider future enforcement and any foreseeable problems before you agree to the terms of your international financial settlement.
How can we help?
Maguire Family Law are experts in international financial settlements and enforcement. We have dealt with many leading and reported cases dealing with international enforcement in the High Court. James Maguire is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. He is also on the panel for a number of embassies including the US Embassy and British Consulates Overseas. We have contacts to several leading lawyers worldwide.