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COVID 19 Division of Family Property

Calgary Alberta Family Law Costs is a key component of a family law litigation strategy. It is an understatement that contested separation and divorce can be costly – emotionally, time and (most seriously) the effect on children. These Calgary Alberta family law costs should always be taken into consideration in deciding whether to pursue contested family matters through the Courts.  But there are obviously other costs for taking these disputes to Court – financial costs. These are the legal “costs” of family law litigation. Peter Graburn of our top-rated Calgary family law office explains costs in today’s blog.

What Are Calgary Alberta Family Law Costs? 1 877 602 9900

Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed.) defines “costs” as the “expenses of litigation…, especially those allowed in favour of one party against the other”. If the parties had agreed and the litigation not started, the successful (and unsuccessful) party would not have had to incur the expense of the litigation. Specifically, legal costs are a reimbursement of (some of) the expenses incurred in the course of the litigation – they are (generally) not a fine or other punishment for the litigation [Cartledge v. Veterinary Medical Ass. (Alberta), 1999 ABCA 131 at para. 15]. However, costs can also be awarded to discourage bad conduct, encourage settlement, and to reward the successful party.

Calgary Alberta Family Law Costs lawyers explain that Alberta Courts have consistently confirmed that the general rules regarding costs apply to Alberta Family Law, particularly custody and access cases (Metz v. Weisberger, 2004 ABCA 151; Busch v. Busch, 2016 ABQB 184). 

Who pays “Costs”?

Absent exceptional circumstances, the unsuccessful party pays the successful party’s costs (Fraser-Tabak v. Tabak, 2016 ABCA 79 at para 103). Substantial (not absolute) success is all that is required to obtain a reimbursement of costs.  However, the Court maintains absolute discretion to award (or not award) costs. 

Types of “Costs”

There are generally two types of legal costs:

Party and Party” Costs – these are the usual costs that attempt to partially indemnify a party for their expenses in the litigation.  These costs are contained in a tariff set out in Schedule C of the Alberta Rules of Court which may only compensate a small portion (ie. 10-30%) of the actual legal costs incurred by a party in pursuing each step of the litigation (rather than the 40-50% Schedule C was designed to reimburse when it was last revised some 20 years ago – see Remington v. Crystal Creek Homes Inc., 2018 ABQB 644). In the recent civil case of Weatherford Canada Partnership v. Addie (2018 ABQB 571), the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench reviewed the various methods Courts may use to increase cost awards from those set out in Schedule C, including awarding:    

   ►a percentage of complete indemnity;

   ►an adjustment to the Schedule C tariff by changing the column, or;

   ► a hybrid approach where costs for different portions of the case are assessed differently;

Solicitor – Client” Costs – these are extraordinary costs that may be seen as a punishment for “reprehensible, scandalous or outrageous conduct” (ie. extreme misconduct or misleading the Court) or for bringing frivolous or vexatious claims. These costs are a complete indemnification of the legal costs incurred by a party in the litigation and are rarely granted. Even more severe (and extremely rare) are “Solicitor and Own Client” Costs, which may include reimbursement for third party costs (ie. expert reports and the cost of Experts’ attendance in Court to testify regarding their report).

Calgary Alberta Family Law Costs Lawyers

As previously indicated, the Calgary Alberta family law costs of contested separation and divorce can be high, not only in emotional costs but also financial ones.  In a previous article Calgary Advance Interim Costs Family Lawyers we discussed how a spouse with limited access to family financial resources can obtain an advance on those resources to “level the playing field” with a financially stronger ex-spouse to pay legal costs throughout the litigation.  But obtaining a repayment/reimbursement of those costs at the end of the litigation process is equally important. So too may be requesting the Court to discipline a party and discourage others for certain conduct through the litigation.

Calgary Family Lawyers 1 877 602 9900

Calgary Alberta Family Law Costs lawyers explain to their Clients the different types of costs the Courts may award in family law litigation and assist their clients to get some of those costs paid during, and some at the end of, the separation and divorce court process. Call our Calgary family lawyers today.