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Orders made by Family Division of Grand Court are not requests says Chief Justice

court-order1Note: see also related story below



1.   Orders made by the Family Division  of the Grand Court are not  preferences, requests or mere indications; they  are orders. Practitioners and those who appear before  the  Grand Court  are reminded that  orders, including  interlocutory orders, must be complied with  to the letter and on time.

2.         In Re W (A Child); Re H (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1177 at paras. 52 & 53, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division in England and Wales, stated:

“The court is entitled to expect – and from now on family courts will demand  – strict compliance  with  all such orders. Non-compliance with orders should be expected to have and will usually have a consequence.

Let me spell it out. An order that something is to be done by 4 pm on Friday, is an order to do that thing by 4pm on Friday, not by 4.21 pm on Friday let alone by

3.01 pm the following Monday or some time later the following week. A person who finds himself unable to comply timeously with his obligations under an order should apply for an extension of time before the time for compliance has expired. It is simply not acceptable to put forward as an explanation for non-compliance with an order the burden of other work /{the time allowed for compliance with  an order turns out to be inadequate the remedy is either to apply to the court for an extension of time or to pass the task to someone else who has available the time in which to do it.

3.  Sir James Munby reiterated his views at page 6 of his 7th View from the President’s Chambers, January 2014:

“What  …. is for  me a real concern is something symptomatic  of a deeply rooted culture in the family courts which, however long established, will no longer be tolerated. I refer to the slapdash, lackadaisical and on occasions almost contumelious attitude which still far too frequently  characterises the response to orders made by family courts. There is simply no excuse for  this. Orders, including interlocutory orders, must be obeyed and complied with  to the letter and on time. Too often they are not. They are not preferences, requests or mere indications; they are orders. This principle applies as much to orders by way of interlocutory  case management  directions as to any other species of order. The court is entitled  to expect- and from  now on family courts will demand -strict compliance with all such orders. Both parties and non-parties to whom orders are addressed must take heed. Non-compliance with an order by anyone is bad enough. It is a particularly serious matter if the defaulter is a public body. Non-compliance with orders should be expected to have and will usually have a consequence: see Re W (A Child), Re H {Children) {2013} EWCA Civ 1177.”

4.  Regrettably the concerns expressed by the President of the Family Division in England and Wales are equally applicable to the response to orders  from a number  of attorneys and parties involved in proceedings before the Family Division of the Grand Court.

5.   This Circular reaffirms the intention of the Judges that  due regard be paid to the guidance given in the case law as summarised above by Sir James Munby.

6.   Accordingly, persons who appear before the Grand Court are expected to comply with their plain and unqualified obligation to comply with  the terms of a Court order made against or in respect of them, unless or until it is discharged. This obligation applies to all forms of orders including interlocutory  case management  directions.

7.   If parties are unable to comply with  the terms of an order, they are not  entitled  to agree a variation  of the order without  obtaining the Court’s approval, and therefore  must make the appropriate  application  to the Grand Court before the time for compliance has expired.

Issued by the Chief Justice following discussion with the Judges of the Family Division.

Hon. Anthony Smellie, Chief Justice (signed)

29 January 2014

The original can be downloaded at:

See related story:

Enforcement of Family Law Court Orders

From Corker Legal

It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone is willing, or always able, to comply with the order of the Court in their family law case.

Sometimes, even though a Judge has ordered someone to pay child support, turn over property in a divorce case, or allow the children to see the other parent per a set schedule, the party subject to the order fails to follow it as designed by the Judge. Whether the order is a Final Decree of Divorce, a child support order, or an order from a custody case, the Court, in most cases, expects the parties to follow the order.

If you have a valid Court order, and the other party is not following it, you may need to file an Enforcement action requesting that the Court require the other party to follow the order. The most common type of Enforcement case is a child support enforcement. Often, clients hire us because, even though the Judge has told the other party to pay support, they fail to do so. Sometimes, the other party pays no support or does not pay it as ordered. This matter can be brought before the Judge and the Court has a number of methods to assure payment by the party who has the child support obligation.

It may be that you are under an order to pay support but, because of an illness or other reason, are unable to pay support. If a child support action is filed against you, it is important to see an attorney so that the Court can be properly informed of your situation and your rights can be protected.

Child support, and other Enforcement actions, can result in a party who is found to be in violation of an order being sentenced to jail time. Such action by the Court often results in the party in violation resuming the payment of support. However, there are times when a party who is unable to pay support, may be entitled to present a defense to payment.

Whether you are the party seeking to enforce an order, or if you are on the receiving end of an Enforcement action, you need legal counsel. The family lawyers at our office have represented hundreds of family law clients and have represented clients in child support and other Enforcement cases in all of the courts in Denton County, and in courts in Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case.

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