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The Financial Cost of Participation

Need to get an idea on how much it costs to participate in the Family law system.

Hiya people.

Can anyone shed some light on the cost of participation in the Family law system.

I appreciate that this is a very very very grey request but what I am looking for is the areas where the house disappears for SRL's

de_dad

Cross posted on DiDs, monitoring both & will leave info on both if applicable.
For a SRL there is little cost other than filing fee and travel costs and copious preperation time under the leadership of the SRL-R group.
That aside you cannot easily claim costs and in most cases each party pays their on costs.

Solicitor and Barrister represetation used to run out at tens of thousands of dollars and at 3k a day for a Barrister of note it only takes a week long hearing to have a 30k Barrister content with pretrial research etc.

The new CCP system (see posts under Family Law regarding costs and process) is a very different scheme and delivery method than what was used previously before July 2006. The Judicial officer now takes some control in matters. You can now have solicitors for part of the case and often these people now act in a mediation role as opposed to litigation and fire command center.

If you investigate the SRL-R community site further and discuss in the SRL forums matters around self representation that would allow you to decide how far you need to go in engaging other professionals.

:)

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
 
Don't forget that the FRC (Family Relationship Centres) are there as well.

That is a very minimal cost entry point and is compulsory from 1 July 2008. That is the first point of call.

Site Director
As the Secreatry SPCA said there is lttle more than the filing fee costs. In most cases parties pay for their own costs - however the costs of Family reports and the like is normally shared equally.

Each Court (FCoA and FMC) has different proceedures. You are talking about the house dissapearing - is this going to to be the result of a property issue?

or

On occasions 'some' costs have been awarded against SRLs (normally FCoA) but a reading of the Judgments of these cases indicates that the application was ILL FOUNDED and/or the SRL wasted a lot of the Courts time (and the others sides counsel).

In part of our Powerpoint material there is a slide that basically says "You have the right to represent yourself - and the the Court has a right that you do not waste its time".

In defended hearings in the FCoA which can go on for many days - you had better have an understanding of what you are attempting to achieve.

Since you have not indicated whether this matter has started, in what Court you are in and whether this is childrens and property matter - you are indeed asking 'grey' questions.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I posed an off-list question regarding information mentioned above which I couldn't locate.

In the interim I found the reply…  

To those following - register on the group to access the resources ;-)

de_dad
I assume you are talking about registering with the SRL-Resources group as there are a number of groups on the Portal site. To do that you actually need to discuss your situation with them as  part of the sign up… How did you post an OFF LIST question? Did you use the whisper functions?


Site Director
Family Law specialist solicitors ask between $350 and $450 an hour for their time.

A friend has engaged solicitors at those rates. The cost of counsel (barrister) he is engaging is around $4,000 per day. The Barrister gets that also for reading time.

During proceedings I've heard that one fellow had spent $375,000 on his side and his wife approximately $180,000.

The suitcases full of documents that are wheeled into the court all are created by solicitors at the above stated rate, or, at a lesser rate if effected by juniors in a chambers. Obviously the more of the stages one can complete one's self keeps the cost down. Solicitors are hired guns and my friend is on his third.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
de_dad said
I posed an off-list question regarding information mentioned above which I couldn't locate.

In the interim I found the reply…

To those following - register on the group to access the resources ;-)
de_dad
 What do you mean by off list reply ? Do you mean a whisper or personal post? register on which group?

Site Director

There is a need for some more education in the area of what it costs !

What happened to the new CCP? (Childrens Case Program) the new method by which you engage with the court system. Its a less adversarial system and much less costly. Speak to the SRL moderators. You can also partially engage. That is use a Barrister where you need it. Pay only for what you need and do the "grunt" work and running around with documents yourself… Those numbers you quote are from the good "ol" days. If it is a relatively simple matter running say 3 days or so get into the Federal Magistrates court. :|

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
 
Just a quick note, I have spent over 5k on legal fees and have only had one 10 minute appearance in court so far.  Most of the running around was done by myself.  

A simple thing like an email or phone call can cost, in my case almost $30.00 for a 2 line email.  

So if you are going to have someone represent you don't be of the opinion it will come cheap, it will not.

The Financial Cost of Participation

I have elected to use a Solicitor to date and have run out at about $8K to get back my rights to 50/50 shared care parenting. Fortunately I was able to get agreement on the consent order proposal without full blown court action. The agreement came a few days before the hearing but was only confirmed as signed 10 minutes before the hearing and so still cost me a flight to the sitting in the major city and a few days accommodation.  Far less than if the Barrister had to attend.

The reality was that anyone short of an axe murderer could have got 50/50 back given the 4 years of successful hybrid family operation prior to the incident resulting in the custody issue.

The fact that it took 9 months to regain custody reinforced the need to proceed absolutely by the book and was the primary reason why I paid the solicitor to at least lay the foundations for a functional case. The initial parenting agreement which I drew up, 4 years prior, and had checked by Relationships Australia prior to being approved by the Family Court was absolutely useless. At the time I got a pat on the back for the document for the touchy feely tone and excellent statement of aspirations for shared care but the reality was it was worse than worthless as it gave me the false sense of having a document capable of being able to deal with situations when they ran off the rails. As it turned out when the ex went spare the situation became one of whoever seized the child had the right of posession ( can't think of anything more suitably offensive to describe the situation ). I have developed a great amount of respect for my Solicitor as to date her firm are about the only ones in the process which have given me any functional assistance ( outside of these forums ;-), the Government departments contacted early in the process were absolutely useless as it became clear that the issue could only be resolved in Court.

As it turned out the one thing that came out of the year was that my ex managed to make a complete botch of it ( as clearly evidenced by the school record and similar ) so there was a concrete record of incompetence at the end of the period, unfortunately the cost was entirely borne by my Son.

My Son is a mess and the rest of this year will disappear in counselling and the like to try to get him stable and functional at school once more. The combination of parental conflict issues and adolescence will make for a challenging year.

The SRL study material did give me a far more realistic understanding of the system and as a consequence I wasted a lot less Solicitor time. Had I not been able to get out of Court agreement then I would definitely had to proceed via the SRL path as from there on things get horribly expensive and well beyond my means.

The commercial reality was that I could be an SRL or try to keep my company afloat and after a reasonable time it became apparent that it was strictly an "either or" scenario. The time required to do the task justice combined with the emotional damage meant that there was a bad case of tunnel vision during the process so trying to adequately manage multiple tasks did not seem feasible. Having said this I have no doubt that many others have & will continue to do this successfully. In my instance it was more functional to keep the business afloat and pay a Solicitor.

Property settlement remains but this is less of an issue, the ex remains erratic and is frequently switching Solicitors and generally wasting a lot of everyones time and money. So far the form13 is an entertaining work of fiction so maybe the thought of perjury or contempt might clarify the next round of presentation of documentation for the Court supervised round-table.

After a year of this legal wrangling, and 4 years of waiting for the problem to appear, I can say that the highest priority for me, now that I have a plan in play to get my Son back to reality, is to wake up one morning and be able to think about something else for a change.

Cheers

De_dad
Ah those lovely touchy feely, feel good parenting plans.

If someone is prepared to sign a parenting plan then its a simple step to a set of consent orders.

Unfortunately I think many parenting plans are signed because they are touchy feely AND because they are not enforceable.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
IT is not how much it costs, but rather how much you have as the more you have the more it costs!

I had a barrister who charged $250 an hour +GST, if one procrastinates they could stretch that to $500 an hour and they often do!

Seek and you shall find!

How the costs of solicitors are levied is not beyond challenge.

The information pasted below is from a commentary from a case wherein someone did contest the costs.

There may be some points that allow an appreciation of a client's rights. The term "taxation" refers to a downwards adjustment of costs.

The orders sought may be: "the agreement should be set aside and the solicitors' bill of costs taxed in accordance with the scale of costs."

There is onus rested on the solicitors to establish the reasonableness of the agreement.

It is not possible for solicitors to rely on some terms of the agreement or to lessen the financial impact of the agreement in the account they render and seek to uphold the agreement.

Whether or not a bill, as finally presented, represents the full potential thrust of the terms of the agreement or not, is not the issue.

It is the agreement upon which the solicitors rely and it is the terms of the agreement which must be shown to be reasonable.

The scale of costs laid down in the Family Law Rules is a legitimate, objective starting point in determining reasonableness.

A charge for a "principal" of the firm and a lesser charge of $220 per hour plus 10% for "any other solicitor". This charge for "any" solicitor was the decisive issue because:
"any" solicitor so that there were no requirements as to experience or specialisation; and

charges were significantly above scale and the rate for family law specialists outside the Melbourne Central Business District.

The location of the solicitors in a Central Business District or the market which they are said to be part of or to attract justifies such a significant charge above scale and above charges routinely charged by equally competent solicitors outside that area.

The "location factor" or market forces did not justify such a departure from the scale and otherwise accepted fees and from the requirement of reasonableness for a person whose qualifications and experience are undefined.

Extremely wide clauses in a agreement, giving the solicitors an unrestrained discretion to retain any counsel and obliging the applicant to pay whatever fee was negotiated. These clauses could not be regarded as reasonable.

Clauses relating to interest upon expenses yet to be incurred and the rate of interest were unsatisfactory,

Although they may have been able to be "varied" if they had been the only factors relevant to reasonableness.

A solicitors needs to discharge the onus on them of establishing that the terms of the agreement were reasonable.

An agreement may be set aside and the solicitors' bill of costs was to be taxed in accordance with the scale of costs.


The case was WEISS, MM v BARKER GOSLING (No 2) (1994) FLC 92-474  Other publishers' citations: (1993) 17 FamLR 626 (1993) 118 FLR 218

Keep the … honest!

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
In the cases I have know personally costs for one matter can be between $20,000 and $70,000 dollars.

The big ticket items are the lawyers and barristers - many who charge in increments of 6 minutes. There is a standard set of charges for everything from emails , photocopying etc.

What blows out things are all the letters back and forth, the multiple court appearances and preparation, preparation of witnesses and affidavits and so on.

So it becomes quite big and constant over a period of months and years.

The other big cost factor is delays. The other party can delay and agree to some things then argue others. In my first case the other party kept avoiding AFTER we were all ready - witnesses prepared (and flown in). So this costs you to have people standing around for few hours while they muck you around (no consequences). Courts delay and reschedule as well and you all wait around at about $1500 an hour doing nothing until the court is ready.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Mind you if your an SRL and the X is being represented it's not all bad, I'd say my would have spent $40k plus just so she didn't have to discuss issues which in the end I was happy with, the cost to me in real terms was about $500.00 for petrol, paper, ink and sundries. But she did avoid paying a couple of grands debt so for her I think she was happy with that, go figure. O_o
Well, they have to deal with you at some point. I don't know anyone that permanently has a solicitor on staff.

Seriously, you have to tell the ex that you are representing yourself, their is no solicitor and that if they do not advise you otherwise, you will take their silence as agreement. Send everything by registered mail, that way they can't claim "I never got it".

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. 
There is information in the documents area of SRL-R members area on making certain that documents - 'do get delivered'.

Nothing worse than an argument in Court about the receipt of documents -can stop a hearing in its tracks.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
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