Family Lore Clinic: I am redundant - what happens to consent order payments to my ex wife?

The answer to this question depends upon what type of payments they are. A consent order (i.e. an order setting out an agreed financial/property settlement on divorce) can include provisions for various types of payments. However, for the purpose of this post I will assume that you are referring either to maintenance payments for your spouse (as against for any children) or instalments of a lump sum order.

If they are maintenance payments, then you can apply to the court for the maintenance to be reduced (and for any arrears to be remitted), or even for the maintenance order to come to an end, whatever is appropriate. Note that you will still be liable for the full amount of the order until it is reduced - your liability did not automatically change when you were made redundant.

You could also ask the court to 'capitalise' the maintenance, i.e. stop it in return for a lump sum payment to your ex-wife, for example if you received a redundancy payment.

If the payments are instalments of a lump sum order, then the situation is different, as the court's powers to vary such orders are more limited. Essentially, the court may alter the arrangements for the payment of the instalments (for example by giving more time to pay), but will only cancel instalments or vary the amount of the lump sum in exceptional circumstances. Once again, note that you will still have to comply with the original order, until such time as it is varied by the court.

The above is, of course, only a brief summary of what can be a complex area of law. If you require further information or detailed advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.