Emergency Measures

Domestic violence injunctions between married and unmarried couples or other family members

Injunctions to prevent dissipation of assets

Enforcement of orders made in family proceedings

Domestic violence

If you or your children are at risk of physical, psychological or emotional harm from your spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, relative, or anyone else who lives with you, then we can act swiftly to obtain an injunction preventing them from using or threatening violence against you, and from harassing or intimidating you. Since 2013, the definition of ‘domestic violence’ has been expanded to include controlling and coercive behaviour, in addition to physical and mental abuse. This type of injunction – known as a non-molestation order – is aimed at protecting you from all forms of domestic violence. If you are in immediate danger of physical harm, we can obtain a non-molestation order without having to notify the other person beforehand.

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In certain circumstances, we may need to obtain an occupation order to regulate the occupation of your home, to ensure your safety and wellbeing. This injunction might include orders prohibiting one person from entering the property, granting one of you the right to occupy the property or, in milder cases, designating separate areas of the property to be used by each person.

Preventing the dissipation of assets

You may have concerns that the other party will try to dispose of their assets in order to prejudice or defeat your financial claims. If there is a real and imminent risk of a dissipation of assets, we can make an urgent court application to freeze those assets, no matter where in the world they are located. We can also take these steps without warning the other party, if that might prompt them to dispose of the assets immediately.

This is considered an extreme measure, which the court will only use in exceptional circumstances. Nonetheless, we are very experienced in making these kinds of applications, and will take immediate action when necessary.

Enforcement of orders made in family proceedings

If you have a financial court order but the other party fails to comply, we can apply to the court for various methods of enforcement. If the other party fails to pay you maintenance and they are in employment, you can apply to the court for an ‘attachment of earnings’, meaning the money you are owed is deducted directly from their salary. If you are owed a specific sum of money under a court order, the court could place a charge on a fund or property owned by the other party, to secure their debt. It is also possible to obtain an order that a third party who holds money on the debtor’s behalf (for example a bank with whom they have an account) can be ordered to pay you the outstanding sums owed. If you can prove that the other party has the means to pay you but has refused to do so, you can seek to have them committed to prison for up to six weeks or until they pay their debt to you. Other methods of enforcement may include using bailiffs to seize possession of physical items of property from the other party and hand them over to you.

Many of our clients have international interests, and assets in multiple jurisdictions, so we are used to dealing with issues relating to the enforcement of family court orders. This could be an English court order to be enforced overseas, or a foreign order that you need to enforce here. The laws governing this are complex, and are contained in a number of international treaties and European Council Regulations. There are different rules and procedures depending on the type of order and the countries involved.

Alexiou Fisher Philipps has extensive contacts with international lawyers across the globe, and the majority of us are members of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, meaning we are well-placed to deal with cross-border enforcement issues.