Reaching an agreement with your partner is not necessarily the end of the story. You need to make sure that the terms of the agreement or court order are carried out. If one of you does not comply with the agreement, and if you are unable to sort out any dispute or misunderstanding (either directly or with the assistance of solicitors) then it is possible that an application would need to be made to court.
If you were not married or in a civil partnership, then you or your former partner can probably enforce any written agreement that was made as a contract and ask the court to uphold its terms and force you or your former partner to comply. Take legal advice as to what your options are – see Useful Links.
If you were married or in a civil partnership, then there are a range of enforcement options potentially available to you. Exactly what you can do will depend on the type of obligation that your former spouse or civil partner has failed to comply with. For example:
- The court could order that maintenance payments are paid directly from salary.
- The court could place a charge against a property owned by the person who failed to pay you a lump sum of money (see Jargon buster) and for the property then to be sold.
- As a last resort, the court to send your former spouse or civil partner to prison.
- To enforce maintenance payments for children see If you have children – enforcing the agreement.
You should speak to a solicitor about which of the options may be best for you.
Enforcing a court order can be expensive and take time, so you need to bear in mind the potential costs of taking action as against the benefit of enforcing the agreement.
If you had separation agreement with your spouse or civil partner rather than a divorce or dissolution (see The steps involved – other options for married couples), then either of you could still apply to the court in the future for a divorce or dissolution and make a financial application to the court at the same time. An alternative would be to have the financial terms of the separation agreement approved by the court on a subsequent divorce or dissolution so that financial negotiations are not reopened.