We all know that children are priceless and that we will do anything for our kids. However when a couple decide to separate or divorce a lot of emotional energy and money can be spent on sorting out who has custody of the children or, for example, if the children should be allowed to move abroad with one parent or how much access or contact time one parent should enjoy with the children.
Children Court Proceedings and Cost Orders
Many parents think that if they get custody of their child (called a child arrangements order ) or get the type of access they asked for or if a judge stops a child moving abroad to live with one parent then as they have ‘’won ‘’ the court case, the court will make a costs order in their favour.
Cheshire children law solicitors will tell you that it is very rare for a court deciding a children case to make an order for costs. The normal costs rule in children law proceedings is that ‘’no order for costs’’ will be made. That means each parent has to pay his or her own legal fees.
The court in children court proceedings does have the power to make costs orders. However, a family judge will only consider making a costs order in cases where the conduct of a party has been reprehensible or unreasonable. That is a pretty high bar. That is why most children law solicitors advise, at the outset of court proceedings, that the parent should assume that they will not get the court to make a costs order in their favour.
Costs Orders and Unreasonable Behaviour
A recent example of where the family court was persuaded to make a cost order in child abduction proceedings is the case of Re J (Children).
The background to the court case was that a mother applied for court permission to take her children to Ukraine for the purpose of a holiday. The children did not return to the UK at the end of their holiday. The father started court proceedings for the return of the children and a number of court orders were made. They were not complied with.
The judge made a cost order against the children’s mother and maternal grandfather. This was because the judge thought the mother had duped the father and the court and had never planned to return the children to the UK after the court gave her permission to take the children on holiday.
The maternal family appealed against the cost order but the appeal court decided that as court orders ordering the return of the children to the UK had been flouted it was appropriate to depart from the usual rule in children law proceedings that both parents pay their own legal fees.
Children Court Proceedings and Costs
Although the father, in the case of Re J, was successful in securing a costs order Cheshire children law solicitors still urge parents contemplating starting court proceedings to go ahead on the basis that the overwhelming likelihood is that each parent will pay their own legal costs.
That is why it is vital that parents choose their children law solicitor with care to make sure that not only is the solicitor an expert in children law but they explain fully the court options and the potential costs involve and provide a transparent price guide .