Costs in Family Law Matters …. It’s not only about paying the lawyers

An article published today on the Sydney Morning Herald website, suggests that the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court are chasing more than $1.4 million in unpaid fees from litigants.  The article goes onto suggest that fees in the Courts have increased considerably over the past 3 years, and that new Court fees were introduced in January 2013.

For parties involved in litigation, it is the case that costs are not only limited to your lawyer’s fees.  There are Court fees payable, and third party expenses that are not often considered by parties when they first consult their lawyer.  Whilst the Court fees do not make up the “lion’s share” of costs in a family law matter, they should be considered when weighing up the costs of litigation.  Some of the fees that are regularly incurred are:

Filing fees for an initiating application                                 between $105 and $500

Filing fees for a response                                                       $305

Daily hearing fee (for trial)                                                     $560 (Federal Circuit Court) or $765 (Family Court)

Subpoena Issue                                                                      $50 each subpoena

Third party expenses can sometimes be an expected surprise (or shock) for parties attempting to settle their property or parenting matters.  For example, if parties are negotiating a property settlement and they own their home or investment properties, there is some likelihood that one or all of the properties will need to be valued by a registered valuer.  Generally speaking, those costs are either born by both parties or the party with the best capacity to meet that expense.  If parties own or run a business, there is the possibility that the business will require valuation by an expert valuer (such as a forensic accountant or other specialist).  In parenting matters, sometimes parties have a family report prepared and the report writer is paid by the parties.

These are simply examples of the “hidden costs” of family law, and it is important that your lawyer provides you with regular cost estimates and that you are aware of what the process is costing.  It is also vitally important that you feel comfortable discussing costs with your lawyer, and that you understand how your lawyer charges.

At McLaughlins, it is important to us that our clients understand how we charge, and that our services have real value to our clients.  If you would like to discuss your family law matter with one of our team, please contact our office on (07) 5591 5099.