HOW CAN YOUR BARRISTER HELP YOU AS A LITIGANT IN PERSON
INFORMATION ON COSTS IN CHILD ARRANGEMENT HEARINGS
RESPONSIBILITY OF A LITIGANT IN PERSON
Important note: Please note that this information is not intended to be legal advice. You are advised to seek legal advice.
This information provides an overview on seeking costs in child arrangement hearings.
There are costs in all civil proceedings and also in family cases.
Generally, it is unusual for there to be costs in children family proceedings and the approach of the courts in ordering that one party pay the costs of another party in disputes relating to a child.
The courts have ordered costs in certain circumstances but ultimately it is a decision for the court upon hearing from the parties and there are circumstances that the court will consider and may award costs against a party.
Reasons the court resists applications for costs
It is rare for a court to order that one party pay costs in private child law proceedings e.g. disputes about child arrangements and parental responsibility. This is because:
It could mean there is less money available to meet the family’s needs
It can increase tensions between parties which is not in the best interests of the child
The threat of paying costs may prevent a person from applying to court.
Power of the court in applications for costs
However, the court does have the power to order costs at any time where it thinks it fair and reasonable to do so.
In deciding whether to order costs the court will look at all the circumstances including:
Whether a party has succeeded in part of their case
The conduct of parties before, during and after proceedings
Whether it was reasonable for a party to make or contest a particular allegation or issue
The way in which a party made or defended their case, or a particular allegation or issue
The courts have confirmed that ordering costs in children law proceedings is not about punishing a parent and it will only usually be made if a party has acted unreasonably. It does not matter if a party has legal aid or not; a costs order may still be made.
Circumstances where costs may be made
Whilst every application for costs turns on its on facts and circumstances, invariably costs relate to the unreasonable ‘conduct of the parties’ before and during the proceedings.
Costs may be sought where the conduct of the party has been thoroughly unreasonable and causes harm and loss financially to the other party.
Cases may involve circumstances where one party has systematically breached the orders of the court, they have been vexatious before and during proceedings, amounting to unreasonable and malicious conduct on their part and/or conduct which amounts to dishonesty that may involve making serious allegation e.g. sexual abuse against another which were wholly unfounded and intended to cause harm.
In short, the court will need to determine the conduct of the parties before making an order for costs.
Any costs issue is a complex one and your barrister can advise you on this.
Chambers of Helen Alexander-Direct Public Access-Family Court Barrister