When and how can one go about seeking legal costs from the other party?
Earlier this year, my ex started proceedings about access and I had papers served on me. I was given Legal Aid for a few months and then it was withdrawn due to a technicality, although as a full-time carer of a child, I'm on a low income.
The ex withdrew from the case at the 11th hour and conceded to my proposal.
In the meantime, I'd had to employ a solicitor as it simply got beyond my capability to go it as a SRL.
I've been told that I can pursue the ex for costs. The ex (via solicitor) threatened me on many occasion that they would be pursuing me for costs if i didn't' sign their orders.
The SRL-R group will be able to give you a more detailed response but generally cost orders are sought as part of and or at the end of the hearings. Cost orders are very difficult to obtain if Self Represented as the scale fee (The fee tables used to allocated cost amounts) are not applicable to SRL's. I have never seen an SRL been able to claim their time for example. (The SRL group leaders may prove me wrong here). The other really important point is you have to be wholly successful or at least successful enough to impress a judicial officer that costs are warranted and should be ordered. In general and usually, each party in a family court case pays their own costs and that is a starting point for all family court litigation. You have to argue cost orders are warranted and the other party must be wholly or significantly unsuccessful in their case to warrant a cost order being made.
Also often, cost orders do not in any way cover the full costs of a matter.
I have been involved in some lengthy legal aid cases where legal aid recovery costs do not get anywhere near to covering the full costs of the case and in a number of these the acting solicitor often does not charge the full cost and virtually is giving services for free.
In summary costs are extremely difficult to get after the fact. (After the case is wound up) and certainly with orders by consent I doubt even possible. Some of the member solicitors on the site here may comment further. I would suggest that as you were on legal aid then funds are tight then engaging a solicitor to get costs recoveries may well cost more than the costs you may or may not recover.
I also looked at a possible COA under CSA legislation. Reason 1 is not probable either… Legal costs
Legal costs incurred by either parent to establish, modify, or enforce arrangements can be significant. However, the courts have held that these expenses cannot appropriately be included as a cost of enabling them to spend time with, or communicate with, the child for the purposes of departing from an assessment of child support for a child (MAV & NTV  FMCAfam 261 (31 May 2005). Senior case officers must consider each case on its merits but will take into account relevant decisions of Courts and Tribunals. Consequently, a change of assessment application based on legal costs incurred by a parent in establishing contact with a child is unlikely to succeed.
It is not much of an exciting response and I would also suggest to you that the heartache and amount of paper work required to brief is simply not worth it. Put it all behind you, write it off as as one of life's less pleasant experiences and move on. Wish you well for the rest of the holiday period (What little is left of it! )
Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Costs are not usually awarded in family law cases, but solicitors often use this as a threat.
There would have to be a strong evidence that the other party was being vexatious in filing.
The other thing to consider, as SecSPCA said, is that it's unlikely that all legal costs are recovered. If you are lucky enough to receive costs, it would be unlikely to be a "refund" of your outlay. On occasion, when costs are ordered, the FM/Judge will look to the other party's financial means and make judgements with that in mind.
I believe you can bring a costs case separately, but it is a harder road to hoe after the fact.
I would suggest you read some costs judgements online.
Junior Executive of SRL-Resources
Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas.