The general rule in relation to costs in family law matters is that each party to proceedings shall pay their own legal costs. This is the starting point for all applications that come before the Court.
Children cases rarely produce an award for costs. The reasons for this are as follows; firstly, as stated in Gojkovic v Gojkovic, imposing costs diminishes the funds available for the needs of the family. Secondly, the Court must always act in the best interests of the child/children. And a costs order should not serve as a deterrent to parents who may have a reasonable case to put forward as to what will be in the child’s best interests.
However, in appropriate circumstances, the Court does hold the discretion to make costs orders against parents or others who act unreasonably in children cases.
Acting unreasonably can be a strong factor for the Court to impose costs however, it does not necessitate a costs order. ‘Broad discretion [is] to be exercised, having regard to all the circumstances of the case.…’
In the case of A v R (2020), the Court found the mother’s conduct had gone ‘far beyond what is reasonable. she made barely any effort to engage in [the] proceedings which were justifiably commenced by the [Father].’ Demonstrating therefore that a lack of engagement in the proceedings may also trigger the Court’s power to impose a costs order on a party.
Therefore, it is useful to note that although costs aren’t commonly awarded in Children cases, in rare cases, costs orders can be made, and care should therefore be taken to follow procedure.
For more information about resolving a Children dispute please contact our Family department on 0161 624 6811 (Option 5).