This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about legal costs in family law matters in the Federal Circuit Court.

Usually, parties who are involved in family law proceedings pay their own legal costs. However, there are exceptions to this. The Court may order one party to pay the legal costs of another. These are known as party-party costs.

How does the Court make a party-party costs order?

The rules about party-party costs are set out in Part 21 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001 (the Rules). The Family Law Rules 2004 (applied in the Family Court) do not apply to family law matters in the Federal Circuit Court unless ordered by a judge.

Unless the court otherwise orders, the amounts payable for a party-party costs order are set out in Schedule 1 of the Rules. The Court may depart from this scale. Sometimes, the Court may order that a specific amount of costs be paid, or may apply:

  • the costs rules of the Family Court, or 
  • another method for determining the amount of costs.

Costs in contravention proceedings

Division 13A of the Family Law Act 1975 sets out how costs are awarded in contravention proceedings that affect children.

If the Court decides that a 'more serious' breach of an order has occurred, it must order costs against the person breaching the order, unless it would not be in the child's best interests. If the Court dismisses a contravention application or finds that no action is required, and such a finding has been made previously, it must consider ordering costs against the person who filed the contravention application.

Taxation of Costs

Taxation of costs in the Federal Circuit Court is only possible when costs are fixed according to the Family Court scale of costs.

There is no provision for taxation of costs if they are fixed according to Schedule 1 of the Rules. Judges will determine disputes about the calculation of costs under Schedule 1.

What are indemnity costs?

Where the conduct of a party warrants it, the Court can award all costs that a party reasonably and properly incurred. These costs are known as indemnity costs.

How do I apply for costs?

You can file an application with the Court seeking a costs order. In some situations you can make an oral application for costs on the day of your court hearing. For more information about applying for a costs order speak to registry staff or obtain advice from a lawyer.

How can I dispute the fees charged by my lawyer?

If you are not happy with the fees charged by your lawyer, you should first explain your concerns to your lawyer and attempt to resolve the dispute.

The Court is not responsible for overseeing private fee arrangements between a lawyer and client. These are known as solicitor-client costs.

If you wish to dispute the fees charged by your lawyer, you need to contact the law society or institute in your State or Territory.

Schedule 1: Party-Party Costs

(the amounts in this schedule are inclusive of GST)

Item

Description

Family law amount

1

Initiating or opposing an application up to the completion of the first court date

Both

  1. $2,241; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing.

2

Initiating or opposing an application which includes Interim orders (other than procedural orders) up to the completion of the first court date

Both

  1. $2,802; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing.

3

Interim or summary hearing – as a discrete event

Both

  1. $1,867; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing.

4

Up to and including the conciliation conference

$1,867

5

Dispute resolution litigation intervention

$1,867

6

Preparation for final hearing – one day matter

$4,775

7

Preparation for final hearing – two day matter

$5,921

8

Preparation for final hearing – each additional hearing day after the second hearing day

$1,268

9

Final hearing costs for attendance of solicitor at Hearing to take judgment and explain orders

Both:

  1. $305; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing.

10

Application for family law location, recovery or enforcement of an order (other than an application for enforcement by a Registrar under item 11)

Both:

  1. $948; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing.

11

Application for enforcement by a Registrar of:

  1. a warrant under rule 25B.22; or
  2. a third party debt notice under rule 25B.40

$627

12

Advocacy loading

$50% of the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 13 that applies to the hearing

13

Daily hearing fee

Either:

  1. for a short mention – $305; or
  2. for a half day hearing - $1,120; or
  3. for a full day hearing - $2,241

14

Disbursements – Court fees and other fees and payments to the extent that they have been reasonably incurred

The amount of the fees and payments

15

Disbursements – photocopying for each page

$0.77

16

Agents fees and travelling costs

Note: For 2 or more hours travel

$630

Part 2 – Child support proceedings

Division 1 – Application for enforcement order in relation to child support proceedings

Item

Description

Family law amount

1

Initiating or opposing an application up to the completion of the first court date

Note: This item includes final hearing of up to one day if it is held on the first court date.

Both

  1. $2,360; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 6 that applies to the hearing.

2

Interim or summary hearing – as a discrete event

Note: This item applies to an interim application, or a summary proceeding of a type not otherwise addressed in this fee structure such as an application for an order that a proceeding be stayed. It does not include the item 1 component

Both

  1. $1,799; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 6 that applies to the hearing.

3

Preparation of final hearing for a matter of 2 or more Days – for every day after the first court date

$1,222

4

Final hearing costs for attendance of solicitor at Hearing to take judgment and explain orders

Both:

  1. $294; and
  2. the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 6 that applies to the hearing.

5

Advocacy loading

$50% of the daily hearing fee mentioned in item 6 that applies to the hearing

6

Daily hearing fee

Either:

  1. for a short mention – $294; or
  2. for a half day hearing - $1,080; or
  3. for a full day hearing - $2,161

7

Disbursements – Court fees and other fees and payments to the extent that they have been reasonably incurred

The amount of the fees and payments

8

Disbursements – photocopying documents first 10 pages – for each page

$0.77

9

Disbursements – photocopying documents after first 10 pages – for each page

$0.23

10

Agents fees and travelling costs

Note:  For 2 or more hours travel

$608

This fact sheet provides general information only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. The Federal Circuit Court cannot provide legal advice.