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A father in proceedings brought by the mother of their two children involving an application for the financial support of the children has been committed for contempt for failure to comply with an order to serve a Form E.

In Ball v Shepstone [2013] EWCC 6 (Fam) the father, Neil Shepstone, failed to appear at the committal hearing. HHJ Everall QC found him guilty of contempt of court by failing to comply with the order and committed him to prison for fourteen days. The order, made on the 3rd October, was suspended until the 14th October to permit Mr Shepstone to serve the Form E in the interim. It is not know n whether he has done so. However this case is testament to the courts approach to non compliance of court directions and forms of redress.

Timeframe / Process was as follows:-

(i) the respondent father was served with the order dated 15th July 2013 ; 

(ii) the respondent failed to file with the court and serve on the applicant a statement of means in Form E by 12th August 2013 or at all, as required by paragraph 1 of the order dated 15th July;

(iii) the Respondent was served with the committal application dated 28thAugust 2013;

(iv) the respondent was found guilty of contempt of court by failing to comply with paragraph 1 of the order dated 15th July 2013;

 

order made as follows:-

(1) the respondent, Neil Philip Shepstone, be committed to prison for a period of fourteen days.

(2) The committal order be suspended until 4 p.m. on 14th October 2013, and will not be put in force if during that time the respondent files with the court and serves on the applicant a statement of means in Form E.

(3)  In the event of non-compliance any application for issue of the warrant should be made to a Judge.

(4) Paragraph 2 of the order dated 15th July shall be varied to 4pm 17thOctober.

(5)  The respondent pay the applicant’s costs of and incidental to this application, to be subject to detailed public funding assessment if not agreed.

2. I am satisfied that it is appropriate to make a committal order for this contempt because the court needs to have a statement of means from the father so the court knows the father’s financial circumstances.  The father has been ordered to file and serve such a statement of means and has failed to do so.  There must be no further delay.  These proceedings involve an application for the financial support of two children.   It is important that the court has the information upon which it can make a proper order for the support of the two children.

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