Can my ex be made to pay my legal costs?

People who are in court often want to know if they can recover their legal costs from the other person.

While it seems to be standard practice for lawyers to seek an order that the other person pays your legal costs in bringing or defending court proceedings, the reality is that a costs order (if the judge were to make it) would be made at the end of a hearing.

For most family law matters, it can take up to 2 years to get to a final hearing, and the vast majority of matters settle by agreement before reaching this stage. It may be that your ex would agree to pay your legal costs as part of an agreed settlement, but this would be a rare thing.

If your matter did go to a hearing, the judge has the discretion to make an order for costs, and in doing so would consider, amongst other relevant factors, the financial situation of each person and if the ‘winning’ party made a settlement offer equal to or greater than what the judge has ordered.

Justine Dean – Samford Family Law