In a financial order, a court can order a person to do any of the following:

  • pay money to another person by a certain time
  • transfer or sell property,
  • sign documents.

When a financial order is made, each person bound by the order must follow it.

If a person has refused to obey an order about property or financial support made under the Family Law Act 1975, your options include:

When would you apply for enforcement of orders?

Courts do not automatically enforce family law orders, so if you cannot reach an agreement, you may consider applying to a court for orders. You have to tell the Court what the problem is in an application. The Court decides if an order is needed to enforce the existing order. Below are some examples of what you can do if you cannot resolve the issue with your former partner.

Courts do not automatically enforce family law orders, so if you cannot reach an agreement, you may consider applying to a court for orders. You have to tell the Court what the problem is in an application. The Court decides if an order is needed to enforce the existing order. Below are some examples of what you can do if you cannot resolve the issue with your former partner.

You can apply to the Federal Circuit Court. If you have current proceedings in the Family Court, you should apply to the Family Court.

What is the law on enforcement of orders?

The law on enforcement of orders is complicated. You should get legal advice before starting any proceedings to enforce a court order.

The process in the Federal Circuit Court is set out in Part 25B of the Federal Circuit Rules 2001.

What if a person refuses to sign the orders?

The existing orders may provide for the document to be signed on behalf of the person refusing to sign (defaulting person) by an officer of the Court that made the order. If it does, you will need to notify the Court that made the original order to advise that the person has refused to sign the document/s and ask for the relevant officer to sign the document/s. An affidavit is usually required stating the facts. If the order was made by a state or territory court, you generally should contact the registry of that court.

If the orders do not provide for this, you can seek an order under section 106A of the Family Law Act, asking for the original court to appoint a person, usually the Registry Manager of the Court , to sign the document/s in the name of the defaulting party.

How do you seek an order?

You can apply to the Court most appropriate for your case.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are separate independent courts but share jurisdiction in all family law matters and you can apply to either court.

The Family Court deals with more complex matters. These may include, for example if the financial issues in your case involve multiple parties, valuation of complex interests in trust or corporate structures including minority interests, or complex issues concerning superannuation (for example valuation or matters of legal principle).

All other applications should be filed in the Federal Circuit Court. The Federal Circuit Court deals with less complex matters that are likely to be decided quickly.

What is the enforcement process to recover money in Family Law?

1. Obtaining information about the payer

If you are seeking to enforce the order, you may choose to first obtain information about the financial circumstances of the payer (person who has not paid the money). This can be done by one of the following:

  • giving the payer written notice to provide a Financial Statement within 14 days
  • giving the payer written notice to provide a Financial Statement within 14 days
  • applying to the Court for an order for the payer to disclose information or produce copies of documents relevant to the payer's financial affairs.

Once you have sufficient information you can then apply to the court.

2. Apply to the court for one of the enforcement following processes

Enforcement Warrant 

You can apply to the Court, without notice to the payer, for an enforcement warrant. The enforcement warrant enables the nominated enforcement officer to seize and sell property of the payer to enforce the warrant.

You can apply to the Court, without notice to the payer, for an enforcement warrant. The enforcement warrant enables the nominated enforcement officer to seize and sell property of the payer to enforce the warrant.

To apply for an enforcement warrant, you need to file:

See Federal Circuit Court Rules 25B.12 and 25B.22 about the information you should include in the affidavit.

See Family Law Rules 20.06 and 20.16 about the information you should include in the affidavit.

Third Party Debt Notice

You can apply to the Court, without notice to the payer or the relevant third party debtor (for example, an employer of the payer), to issue a Third Party Debt Notice. This notice requires a person or organisation (the third party) who it is alleged owes money to the debtor to pay that money to you rather than the debtor (for example, it could be for be wages).

You can apply to the Court, without notice to the payer or the relevant third party debtor (for example, an employer of the payer), to issue a Third Party Debt Notice. This notice requires a person or organisation (the third party) who it is alleged owes money to the debtor to pay that money to you rather than the debtor (for example, it could be for be wages).

To apply for a Third Party Debt Notice, you need to file:

See Federal Circuit Court Rules 25B.12 and 25B.22 about the information you should include in the affidavit.

See Family Law Rules 20.06 and 20.16 about the information you should include in the affidavit.

To serve the Third Party Debt Notice:

If the Court issues a Third Party Debt Notice, you must serve the sealed document on the third party debtor and the payer. The third party debtor must either comply with the notice or may apply to the Court to dispute the liability or seek procedural orders.

If the Court issues a Third Party Debt Notice, you must serve the sealed document on the third party debtor and the payer. The third party debtor must either comply with the notice or may apply to the Court to dispute the liability or seek procedural orders.

For more information about Third Party Debt Notices and the process see the fact sheet:

Enforcement hearing

You may apply to the Court for an order that the payer attends an enforcement hearing. For more information see the fact sheet Enforcement Hearings. At the enforcement hearing the Court may make orders to enforce the original order including:

You may apply to the Court for an order that the payer attends an enforcement hearing. For more information see the fact sheet Enforcement Hearings. At the enforcement hearing the Court may make orders to enforce the original order including:

  • sequestration of property,
  • receivership. or
  • other appropriate order/s.

Sequestration of property

The Court can order a property to be temporarily placed in the hands of a sequestrator. The sequestrator can:

  • collect rents, takings or profits of a business or prevent persons from entering the property, and
  • pay amounts owing to you under the initial order.

Any person affected by the sequestration order can apply to the Court for procedural orders.

What is receivership?

The Court can appoint a person as receiver of the payer’s income or property. The receiver is then entitled to:

  • receive any income due to the payer from that property, and
  • pay amounts owing to you under the initial order.

It does not give the receiver the power to sell the property. Any person affected by the receivership order can apply to the Court for procedural orders.