Family Court costs order and when offers count
A Family Court costs order may be made in a number of circumstances. The General rule is that costs orders are not made but that each party to proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”) bears her or his own costs (section 117(1) FLA).
However, where the Court considers that there are circumstances that justify it, the Court may make such order as to costs as the Court considers just (section 117(2) FLA). Factors that the Court must have regard to when considering what costs order, if any, should be made include “whether either party to the proceedings has made an offer in writing to the other party to the proceedings to settle the proceedings and the terms of any such offer” (section 117(2A)(f) FLA).
Apart from the obvious desire to finally settle family law proceedings, the prospect of a family court costs order being made against you is another good reason then to make an offer or offers for final settlement during the course of the proceedings.
If you need assistance to make or defend and application for a Family Court costs order or regards any other family law matter, contact our experienced Brisbane divorce lawyers or our divorce lawyers Brisbane Northside. We specialise in family law, including family law property settlement, obtaining interim property orders, maintenance claims and parenting arrangements. Your initial call with one of our experienced family lawyers is complimentary and we also provide fixed fee family law consultations. You are also welcome to read on for further information right now………
However, the making of an offer in itself is not sufficient. When the Court is considering whether or not a family court costs order should be made against a party, it is only a serious offer previously made that may assist that party on the question of costs.
For example, the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia in Trevi & Trevi (No.3)  made a family court costs order against the Wife requiring that she pay certain of the Husband’s costs. The Husband had made offers to pay the Wife $1,401,592 (on 27 September 2018) and $1,410,000 (on 2 October 2018).
The final orders made by the trial judge required that the Husband pay the Wife an amount of $1,407,431. The Full Court noted that the Wife would have been in a better position had she accepted either of the Husband’s offers after taking into account after taking into account delay in her receiving payment and her own costs that had likely been incurred.
The Court said that the failure of a party to “heed a reasonable offer… where there is adequate knowledge of the parties at the time the offer is made to give it proper consideration, is something to which very significant weight” ought normally be given when the Court is considering whether a family court costs order should be made against that party.
Contact our divorce lawyers Brisbane or divorce lawyers North Brisbane for advice concerning any area of family law. We aim to assist our clients to reach an agreement with their former partner in a timely manner without having to go to Court. If however court action becomes necessary, we have the experience to represent you at Court.
The information set out in this blog is not a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you obtain advice tailored to your particular circumstances from our family lawyers Brisbane or our family lawyers Brisbane Northside.