Cost Orders in Children Proceedings

In the case of Re L (Costs of Children Proceedings) a Mother’s appeal against an Order for her to pay the Father’s costs in Children proceedings was allowed.

The Mother and Father married in 1997 and subsequently separated in 2007.

There were two children of the marriage.

Following separation, there was years of litigation between the parties, involving, applications pursuant to the Children Act 1989 and contested property litigation.

Various applications in relation to the children were made between 15 May 2012 and 6 March 2013.

At the Final Hearing on 25 March 2013, the Judge made an Order which dealt with, amongst other things, contact, residence and schooling.

The Order also provided that the Mother should pay the Father’s costs in respect of all applications regarding the children, since the Order dated 15 May 2012, amounting to £25,281.28 (including VAT).

The Mother appealed.

The Mother stated that she had not been provided with sufficient warning of the Father’s application to seek an adverse order for costs.

The Mother also argued that the Judge had erred in failing to follow the presumption that there should be no order for costs in children proceedings, save for where here had been unreasonable behaviour in the conduct of litigation. The Mother submitted that the Judge had not only failed to address whether there had been unreasonable conduct, but could not on the evidence in his possession, properly come to the conclusion that there had been such behaviour.

The Mother’s appeal was allowed.

The Court held that in view of the way the litigation has been conducted between the parties, the Mother would not have had any expectation that an Order for costs on the basis of her unreasonable conduct would be sought. In the circumstances, the Father’s solicitors should have drawn the Mother’s attention to the fact the Father would be seeking an adverse order for costs against her on the ground of unreasonable conduct.

In addition, it was held that there had been nothing in the Mother’s conduct that had justified an adverse Order for costs against her contrary to the normal principles in Children Act proceedings.

Finally it has been wrong in principle, and on the fact, for the Judge to have made an Order for costs against her.

Family Law Solicitors Eastbourne, Hailsham, Polegate and Meads

If you require further advice in relation to children proceedings please contact our Family Department for a free 30 minute appointment to discuss your circumstances and receive preliminary advice from one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors.

Eastbourne: 01323 727321

Hailsham: 01323 841481

Polegate: 01323 487051

Meads: 01323 407577

Nicholas Dennis
Nicholas Dennis
Alexandra Funnell
Alexandra Funnell
Guy Brown
Guy Brown
Carolyn Richards
Carolyn Richards