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Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what target he has set for the maximum duration between a court awarding a maintenance payment and that payment being made; what steps he plans to take to minimise the amount of time taken; and if he will make a statement. (250945)

In family proceedings, the court has power to order periodical payments for maintenance in a variety of situations. The court can order periodical payments to be made for the benefit of a former spouse or civil partner or for the benefit of a child of the family on divorce or on dissolution of a civil partnership. The court can also order payments to be made when a spouse or civil partner has failed to maintain the other party to the marriage or civil partnership or any child of the family. Additionally, the court can also order any parent to make periodical payments for the benefit of a child under schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989.

When making an order for periodical payments for maintenance, the court can order when the payments shall be made, the amount of the payments to be made and the term for which payments may be made. The court can also order periodical payments to be made on an interim basis before the proceedings are finally resolved. It is not possible to set a target for commencement of payments because the court will determine the appropriate date for the first payment after considering the circumstances of each individual case.

If the periodical payments ordered by the court are not made, the person entitled to receive the payments under the court order can apply to the court to have the order enforced.