Hadkinson orders in Family Law. Their use and recent case law

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What is a Hadkinson Order?

A Hadkinson order is an unusual order, but can be a very important tool in the right circumstances. Where a party is in breach of court orders, for example to pay money (such as maintenance) or to provide disclosure, a Hadkinson order can stop them from bringing other applications and from being heard in proceedings.

The breach of an order is contempt of court. As well as being fined or imprisoned for contempt, a Hadkinson order will mean that the court can refuse to hear from a party who is in contempt. This will stop them from advancing their case through bringing additional applications, or even from arguing their case in hearings.

Case of DS v HR [2019]

In the recently reported case of DS v HR [2019], before Mr. Justice Cohen, the wife applied for a Hadkinson order barring her former husband from continuing with his appeal in proceedings under the Family Law Act 1996 unless he paid what he owed in child maintenance payments. Cohen J. described the background as “some of the least attractive and commercially suicidal litigation that I have seen for a long while”.

The husband (a solicitor) was in breach of an order to pay child maintenance for the parties’ two children of £5,000 per month indexed linked – an order to which he had consented. He stopped paying as a direct result of a costs order being made against him. He also later made “astonishing communications” to the children saying he would make them homeless unless the wife’s new husband gave up the costs order (which had been made in his favour).

Cohen J acknowledged that a Hadkinson order may well be a very draconian remedy but he made the order anyway. The husband had no defence to the non-payment of child maintenance.

For information on maintenance orders, divorce or family law in general why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert family lawyers and see what we can do for you?

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