Curfew Order for non-payment of Child Maintenance
Curfew Order Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission was set up by the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008. This Commission can exercise a number of enforcement powers in the event that an absent parent fails to pay child support maintenance. One of these powers is the ability to make an application to the Magistrates Court to obtain a curfew order against a non-resident parent. This power came into force in 2010.
The Enforcement Commission are able to make an application for a Curfew Order if the following conditions are met:
- Attempts have been made to recover arrears through the use of bailiffs or a third party debt or charging order.
- The full or partial amount of arrears is still outstanding
- The non resident parent has neglected or refused to pay the required child support maintenance
Curfew Order Child Maintenance Considerations
When the court assesses the application to make a curfew order, they will be expected to investigate whether the non-resident parent has wilfully refused or neglected to pay the maintenance.
If the court reaches a conclusion that there has been no culpable neglect or wilful refusal it cannot issue an order. The court also cannot grant a curfew order on a parent who is under the age of 18 years or a parent who is currently in custody.
Once a decision has been made and the Court has decided to grant the curfew order, it will last for a period of time indicated in the Court order, but this cannot extend beyond six months. The six months will start at the time the order was made unless stated otherwise. If the curfew has come to an end, and the arrears are still outstanding, it would be up to the Commission to submit a further application to the Court.
A Curfew Order Child Maintenance will be limited to between two and twelve hours in any one day, although the Courts will be able to make an order for different periods and different places.
If the Court does impose a curfew, they must as far as possible, ensure that it does not conflict with the religious beliefs of the non-resident parent or cause problems in terms of them attending work or education. The Court also cannot specify a curfew location outside of England or Wales.
Once the curfew order is in place, an appointed person or body will be responsible for monitoring it. In some situations monitoring may be carried out by a landlord. However in this instance, the landlord’s permission would need to be sought to install the system in the non-resident parent’s home. The designated individual who is responsible for monitoring the curfew will be detailed within the order.
A curfew order cannot be granted unless the Commission has confirmed that suitable monitoring arrangements are in place and cooperation has been sought from a third party (where required) for the installation of monitoring equipment. If third party consent cannot be obtained, the Court can treat the application for a curfew order as an application to commit the individual to prison. In some circumstances, the non-resident parent may be permitted to be absent from the place of the curfew during the designated curfew period.
Costs and Curfew Orders
When a Curfew Order Child Maintenance is granted the Court will issue an order which requires the non-resident parent to meet the costs of the application associated with monitoring the curfew order. Within the Curfew Order, an aggregate sum will be detailed in relation to the child support maintenance arrears, the costs associated with monitoring and the fees associated with the application. When the non-resident parent fails to pay these costs, the Commission will be entitled to recover these costs using the same processes they would to recover child support maintenance.
In certain situations the Court will have the ability to suspend, revoke or make amendments to the Curfew Order Child Maintenance. To do so they must receive an application from the Commission or the non-resident parent. In these circumstances the Commission can make a representation to the Court in relation to the amount to be paid before the order is varied, suspended or revoked and the non-resident parent will be able to reply to these representations. If the court grants an order to suspend the order or allow the curfew to start at a later date, the court can exercise the right to attach conditions to the order. An order can be revoked if the full amount of money outlined in the order is paid by the non-resident parent. If the non-resident parent is committed to prison, the curfew order will be suspended until they are released.
There are occasions when a curfew order can be breached. If this does occur, the Commission will need to make an application to the Court. When an application is made the Court will need to determine whether the curfew order was breached and whether the non-resident parent had a reasonable excuse to do so. If the court concludes that there wasn’t a reasonable excuse for the breach, they can issue a warrant to commit the non-resident parent to prison. Alternatively the Court may decide to extend the curfew for a further six months. If the non-resident parent is sent to prison, they can be released if the full amount owed is paid. If a part payment is made, the Court may decide to release the non-resident parent from prison or reduce their sentence.
A curfew order is a powerful tool that can be used to ensure that non-resident parents pay the child support maintenance that they are required to. There are quite specific rules as to how curfew orders can be used for child maintenance and it is strongly advised that you seek legal advice if this is something that you are contemplating.
About the author:
This article was written for Allaboutuklaw by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.