Usually, parties who are involved in family law proceedings pay their own legal 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 Magistrates Court unless ordered by a federal magistrate.

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 Magistrates 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. Federal magistrates 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.



Alan Weiss

19th March, 2020

Alan Weiss developed after he experienced himself how devastating divorce proceedings can be. I witnessed firsthand my own future security, and that of my familys, being destroyed by acrimonious and costly divorce litigation. I created to help people avoid an experience like this and lose thousands of dollars. Instead the system will assist them in getting on with their lives.