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What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.


Proposal: Costs Should Be Awarded
Other - Feb 17, 2023

83% in favour out of 23 votes

Stephen Harfield
  Queck & Associates
   Sherwood Park, Alberta


I have heard judges say they don't like giving costs. They worry about what the impact will be on the family - is this money that should be spent on kids? Will it act as too much of a barrier to get relief?

It seems to generally come down to the fact that someone lost, but they deserve sympathy. Of course these are not legally relevant considerations.

But the fact that costs are not consistently granted impacts how we deal with our files. They do not act as the deterrent or means to settlement they should be if there isn't clear criteria being applied, or whether some excuse will be found about "mixed success".

It brings questions:

1) Are judges the most suited to be dealing with costs in the moment?
2) Should the default for costs in family law not be "forthwith", but "in any event of the cause?"
3) Should there be fixed and discretionary aspects? Like having an application granted, or substantially granted will result in costs for the filing fee at least, and the rest discretionary?
4) Should MEP Act be changed to allow for enforcement of Costs on things other than a maintenance award?

The heavy conscience of our judiciary in dealing with matters may actually be costing people more, not less.


0 12 months ago - edited 12 months ago

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