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Burke-Robertson LLP
441 MacLaren Street
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Ottawa, ON K2P 2H3

Phone: 613-706-0020
Toll free: 1-800-419-5581
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Costs in Family Law Matters

Retaining legal counsel is expensive. Although some legal fees are tax deductible (see our blog on tax deductible fees here), clients can expect to find the fees substantial.In some cases, the Family Law Rules allow parties to recover costs of particular steps in litigation. The entireOntario Family Law Rules can be found here.
If you are required to bring a motion, or defend one, and you are successful, you may be entitled to recover some of your legal costs of the motion directly from the other party. If you are unsuccessful, you might end up having to pay some of the other party's legal fees. Costs awards can be thousands of dollars, and vary dramatically from one case to another, and one type of appearance to another, but the risk is always there. 

The Rules

The Rules specify that the successful party is presumed entitled to costs. By awarding costs pursuant to theRules the courts encourage the parties to settle matters between themselves, and avoid unreasonable risks arguing issues that could or should be resolved through negotiation.
Several factors go into an argument for costs, including the success on each issue, the complexity of the issues, the importance of the issues to the parties, the experience level of and fees charged by each party's lawyer, and the reasonableness of the parties leading up to the hearing.


In determining "reasonableness" the court will look to whether either party made an offer to settle the issues. Lawyers will always encourage you to make offers to settle in part for this reason. If you make an offer that is not accepted by the other side, and not withdrawn by you prior to the hearing, you may recover substantial costs if you obtain a result more favourable than your offer.
Costs are their own complicated area of law, and they include varying levels of recovery, from a partial contribution to your legal fees, to "full indemnity." Awards for costs never cover 100% of your legal bill, and you are still responsible for paying your lawyer directly. Your lawyer should be vigilant in ensuring that you are protected against costs awards, and that you have the best chance of a favourable costs award. Your lawyer can also assist you in recovering payment when your spouse is ordered to make a payment towards your costs.
- Jenny

Remember, everyone's situation is unique. The blogs posted on this site are informational. They are not intended to be taken as legal advice for your situation. It is always a good idea to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions related to your particular case.

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