PRACTICE DIRECTION 34E - RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF MAINTENANCE ORDERS – DESIGNATED FAMILY JUDGE AREAS

PRACTICE DIRECTION 34E - RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF MAINTENANCE ORDERS – DESIGNATED FAMILY JUDGE AREAS

This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 34

Maintenance Enforcement Business Centres, Designated Family Judge areas and Designated Family Courts

1.1

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service will publish information to enable the family court Maintenance Enforcement Business Centres of the family court, Designated Family Judge areas and Designated Family Courts to be identified.

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Taking of evidence for court in reciprocating country

2.1

Rule 34.20(3) FPR sets out where the family court has power to take evidence when a request is made by or on behalf of a court in a reciprocating country for the taking of evidence for the purpose of proceedings relating to a maintenance order to which Part 1 of the 1972 Act applies.

2.2

Where rule 34.20(3) applies, the evidence will be taken by the family court sitting in the Designated Family Judge area in which the maintenance order is made or registered, or to which the Lord Chancellor sends the request to take evidence.

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Notification of proceedings in a Hague Convention Country or in the United States of America

3.1

Rule 34.28ZA FPR applies where the court officer receives from the Lord Chancellor a notice of the institution of proceedings, including notice of the substance of a claim, in a Hague Convention Country or in the United States of America in relation to the making, variation or revocation of a maintenance order.

3.2

Where rule 34.28ZA applies –

(a) if it appears to the court officer that the person against whom the proceedings were instituted is residing within the area covered by the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre in which the court officer acts, the court officer will serve the notice on that person by sending it to that person's last known or usual address;

(b) if it appears to the court officer that the person concerned is not residing within that area, the court officer must inform the Lord Chancellor and return the notice.

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Registration of maintenance orders

4.1

Paragraphs 4.2 to 4.5 apply where the family court receives an application of a type referred to in rule 34.30 FPR.

4.2

The court officer will –

(a) take such steps as appear appropriate for ascertaining whether the payer resides within the area covered by the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre to which the application has been sent; and

(b) consider any available information as to the nature and location of the payer's assets.

4.3

If the court officer is satisfied that the payer –

(a) does not reside within the area covered by the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre to which the application has been sent; and

(b) does not have assets in that area against which the maintenance order could be enforced,

the court officer will refuse the application and return the application to the Lord Chancellor stating the information the court officer has as to the whereabouts of the payer and the nature and location of the payer's assets.

4.4

Paragraph 4.5 applies if the court officer is satisfied that the payer –

(a) does not reside within the area covered by the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre to which the application has been sent; but

(b) has assets in that area against which the maintenance order could be enforced.

4.5

Where this paragraph applies, then either –

(a) the court officer must register the order; or

(b) if the court officer believes that the payer is residing in an area covered by a different Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre, the court officer may refuse the application and return the documents to the Lord Chancellor stating the information the court officer has as to the whereabouts of the payer and the nature and location of the payer's assets

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Appeal from a decision relating to registration

5.A1   

Where rule 34.31(2) FPR applies (certain appeals to be to the family court), the appeal should be sent to the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre that has been in most recent communication with the parties.

5.1

Where rule 34.31(2) FPR applies (certain appeals to be to the family court), the appeal should be heard in the same Designated Family Judge area in which –

(a) the order is registered; or

(b) the application for registration has been refused,

as the case may be.

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Registered order: payer residing in an area covered by a different Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre

6.1

Paragraphs 6.2 to 6.5 apply where a court officer in the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre for the Designated Family Judge area where an order is registered considers that the payer is residing in a Designated Family Judge area covered by a different Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre (rule 34.35 refers).

6.2

The court officer will send to the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre for that other area –

(a) the information and documents relating to the registration;

(b) a certificate of arrears, if applicable, signed by the court officer;

(c) a statement giving such information as the court officer possesses as to the whereabouts of the payer and the nature and location of the payer's assets; and

(d) any other relevant documents which the court officer has relating to the case.

6.3

The information and documents referred to in paragraph 6.2(a) are those required, as appropriate, under –

(a) Articles 46 and 47 of the 1968 Convention;

(b) Articles 46 and 47 of the 1988 Convention;

(c) Article 53 of the Judgments Regulation;

(d) Article 53 of the Lugano Convention;

(e) Article 28 or 29 of the Maintenance Regulation; or

(f) Article 25 or 30 of the 2007 Hague Convention.

6.4

The court officer must give notice to the payee and the Lord Chancellor that the papers have been sent to the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre for another area.

6.5

If the papers are sent to the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre for another area, the court officer in that Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre must note that the order has been, and remains, registered in the family court.

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Application for enforcement of a maintenance decision to which Section 1 of Chapter IV of the Maintenance Regulation (rule 34.36C FPR)

7.1

An application for the enforcement of a decision (within the meaning of Article 2 of the Maintenance Regulation) to which Section 1 of Chapter IV of the Maintenance Regulation applies (that is, a decision made in any other Member State of the European Union except Denmark) will be heard by the family court sitting in the Designated Family Judge area in which –

(a) the person against whom enforcement is sought resides;

(b) that person has assets against which the decision could be enforced; or

(c) any other matter relating to enforcement arises.

7.2

Where –

(a) the applicant is the person in whose favour the order was made or, if that person is a child, is the child or the person with whom the child has his or her home;

(b) the applicant resides in a different Designated Family Judge area to the area in which the application would be heard if paragraph 7.1 applied; and

(c) payment is directed to be made to the applicant,

the application may be heard in the Designated Family Court area in which the applicant resides.

7.3

Where an application for enforcement is made under Article 56 of the Maintenance Regulation in the form at Annex VI to that Regulation, the application must be made using that form,

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Application by debtor under Article 21 of the Maintenance Regulation for refusal or suspension of enforcement

8.A1   

An application by a debtor under Article 21 of the Maintenance Regulation for the refusal or suspension of enforcement of a decision should be sent to the Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre which has been in most recent communication with the debtor.

8.1

An application by a debtor under Article 21 of the Maintenance Regulation for the refusal or suspension of enforcement of a decision will be heard in –

(a) the Designated Family Judge area to which an application for enforcement of that decision has been made in accordance with paragraph 7.2 or 7.3, or

(b) where no such application has been made at the date at which the debtor makes an application to which this paragraph applies, the Designated Family Judge area to which an application for enforcement would be required to be made under paragraph 7.2 or 7.3.

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