Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1972 c. 18


Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972

1972 CHAPTER 18

An Act to make new provision, applying throughout the United Kingdom, in place of the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act 1920; to make provision with a view to the accession by the United Kingdom to the United Nations Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance done at New York on 20th June 1956; to make other provision for facilitating the recovery of maintenance by or from persons in the United Kingdom from or by persons in other countries; to extend the jurisdiction of magistrates' courts to hear complaints by or against persons outside England and Wales; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

[23rd March 1972]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders made in United Kingdom or Reciprocating Country

Part I

Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders made in United Kingdom or Reciprocating Country

Designation of reciprocating countries

Designation of reciprocating countries

S-1 Orders in Council designating reciprocating countries.

1 Orders in Council designating reciprocating countries.

(1) Her Majesty, if satisfied that, in the event of the benefits conferred by this Part of this Act being applied to, or to particular classes of, maintenance orders made by the courts of any country or territory outside the United Kingdom, similar benefits will in that country or territory be applied to, or to those classes of, maintenance orders made by the courts of the United Kingdom, may by Order in Council designate that country or territory as a reciprocating country for the purposes of this Part of this Act; and, subject to subsection (2) below, in this Part of this Act ‘reciprocating country’ means a country or territory that is for the time being so designated.

(2) A country or territory may be designated under subsection (1) above as a reciprocating country either as regards maintenance orders generally, or as regards maintenance orders other than those of any specified class, or as regards maintenance orders of one or more specified classes only; and a country or territory which is for the time being so designated otherwise than as regards maintenance orders generally shall for the purposes of this Part of this Act be taken to be a reciprocating country only as regards maintenance orders of the class to which the designation extends.

Orders made by courts in the United Kingdom

Orders made by courts in the United Kingdom

S-2 Transmission of maintenance order made in United Kingdom for enforcement in reciprocating country.

2 Transmission of maintenance order made in United Kingdom for enforcement in reciprocating country.

(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, where the payer under a maintenance order made, whether before or after the commencement of this Part of this Act, by a court in the United Kingdom is residing in a reciprocating country, the payee under the order may apply for the order to be sent to that country for enforcement.

(2) Subsection (1) above shall not have effect in relation to a provisional order or to an order made by virtue of a provision of Part II of this Act.

(3) Every application under this section shall be made in the prescribed manner to the prescribed officer of the court which made the maintenance order to which the application relates.

(4) If, on an application duly made under this section to the prescribed officer of a court in the United Kingdom, that officer is satisfied that the payer under the maintenance order to which the application relates is residing in a reciprocating country, the following documents, that is to say—

(a ) a certified copy of the maintenance order;

(b ) a certificate signed by that officer certifying that the order is enforceable in the United Kingdom;

(c ) a certificate of arrears so signed;

(d ) a statement giving such information as the officer possesses as to the whereabouts of the payer;

(e ) a statement giving such information as the officer possesses for facilitating the identification of the payer; and

(f ) where available, a photograph of the payer;

shall be sent by that officer to the Secretary of State with a view to their being transmitted by the Secretary of State to the responsible authority in the reciprocating country if he is satisfied that the statement relating to the whereabouts of the payer gives sufficient information to justify that being done.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be taken as affecting any jurisdiction of a court in the United Kingdom with respect to a maintenance order to which this section applies, and any such order may be enforced, varied or revoked accordingly.

S-3 Power of magistrates' court to make provisional maintenance order against person residing in reciprocating country.

3 Power of magistrates' court to make provisional maintenance order against person residing in reciprocating country.

(1) Where a complaint is made to a magistrates' court against a person residing in a reciprocating country and the complaint is one on which the court would have jurisdiction by virtue of any enactment to make a maintenance order if—

(a ) that person were residing in England and Wales; and

(b ) a summons to appear before the court to answer to the complaint had been duly served on him,

the court shall have jurisdiction to hear the complaint and may, subject to subsection (2) below, make a maintenance order on the complaint.

(2) A maintenance order made by virtue of this section shall be a provisional order.

(3) If the court hearing a complaint to which subsection (1) above applies is satisfied—

(a ) that there are grounds on which a maintenance order containing a provision requiring the making of payments for the maintenance of a child may be made on that complaint, but

(b ) that it has no jurisdiction to make that order unless it also makes an order providing for the legal custody of that child,

then, for the purpose of enabling the court to make the maintenance order, the complainant shall be deemed to be the person to whom the legal custody of that child has been committed by an order of the court which is for the time being in force.

(4) No enactment empowering a magistrates' court to refuse to make an order on a complaint on the ground that the matter in question is one which would be more conveniently dealt with by the High Court shall apply in relation to a complaint to which subsection (1) above applies.

(5) Where a court makes a maintenance order which is by virtue of this section a provisional order, the following documents, that is to say—

(a ) a certified copy of the maintenance order;

(b ) a document, authenticated in the prescribed manner, setting out or summarising the evidence given in the proceedings;

(c ) a certificate signed by the prescribed officer of the court certifying that the grounds stated in the certificate are the grounds on which the making of the order might have been opposed by the payer under the order;

(d ) a statement giving such information as was available to the court as to the whereabouts of the payer;

(e ) a statement giving such information as the officer possesses for facilitating the identification of the payer; and

(f ) where available, a photograph of the payer;

shall be sent by that officer to the Secretary of State with a view to their being transmitted by the Secretary of State to the responsible authority in the reciprocating country in which the payer is residing if he is satisfied that the statement relating to the whereabouts of the payer gives sufficient information to justify that being done.

(6) A maintenance order made by virtue of this section which has been confirmed by a competent court in a reciprocating country shall be treated for all purposes as if the magistrates' court which made the order had made it in the form in which it was confirmed and as if the order had never been a provisional order, and subject to section 5 of this Act, any such order may be enforced, varied or revoked accordingly.

(7) In the application of this section to Northern Ireland, in subsection (1), for the reference to England and Wales there shall be substituted a reference to Northern Ireland and in subsection (4), for the reference to the High Court there shall be substituted a reference to the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

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