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11 March 2020

Hadkinson Orders – husband prevented from pursuing appeal until he complies with previous court orders

In the majority of cases, if you are in breach of court orders you are allowed to continue pursuing court proceedings, although you may be criticised by a judge or penalised by cost orders being made against you.

In very rare cases, it is possible for someone to secure what is known as a Hadkinson Order. These orders are considered draconian and the court has confirmed time and again that they should only be used ‘judicially, sparingly and proportionately’. Some have considered this order to be defunct but, newsflash – it is not!

Within the last six months a High Court judge has made a Hadkinson Order to prevent a husband pursuing his appeal, until he was up to date with the child maintenance payments ordered in other family law proceedings. The judge was clearly very critical of the husband’s behaviour, particularly as he knew he was in breach of the order to pay child maintenance and was maintaining the breach purely to put his wife under increased pressure during the litigation. The judge commented that this was ‘some of the least attractive and commercially suicidal litigation’ he had seen for some time.

The background to the case was that the husband had ‘egged on’ one of the children to make a court application to evict the wife’s new husband from the family home. That application was not successful and the court made a costs order for some £37,000 to be paid by the husband to the wife’s new husband, owing to his role behind the scenes with the child. As a direct consequence of the costs order, the husband stopped paying the child maintenance of £5,000 per month as he did not have assets in the UK which would have made enforcement of the maintenance almost impossible. He then sought to appeal the costs order.

The effect of the Hadkinson Order was that he couldn’t proceed with his appeal unless he paid the arrears of child maintenance. The judge was astonished that the husband had written to the wife confirming he would allow the children to be homeless unless the cost order was discharged.

There is a lesson to be learned that judge’s do not like their orders being ignored and will take steps to ensure they are complied with. It is, however, only in the most serious of cases that Hadkinson Orders will be appropriate. In most cases, you must rely on the enforcement powers of the court.

If you are in breach of an order, or your ex is in breach of an order, please do contact our family and matrimonial team to talk about the appropriate options for your circumstances.

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