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Who Pays Court Fees in Financial Settlement?

who pays court fees | Justice Family Lawyers

When it comes to financial settlements from a divorce or separation, court fees may be applicable depending on the circumstances.

It is important to understand who is responsible for such fees, as it can have a significant financial impact on the parties.

  1. In a financial settlement, court fees are paid by each party.
  2. In general, if you are the party who makes the application to the court, then you have to pay slightly more court fees. This ends up being an extra $200 or so.
  3. Individuals with financial hardship can apply for assistance from the court, such as a reduction or waiver of court fees.
  4. You may be eligible for legal aid if you are on Centrelink or you are a low-income earner.

In circumstances where an individual faces financial hardship and is unable to pay the court fees, assistance from the court may be available.

This could include a reduction or waiver of court fees. This type of assistance may be available to help individuals who are in difficult financial situations and to enable them to have equal access to justice.

The court may take into account factors such as income, assets, financial resources and debts.

Also read: Family Law Disclosure

How much are settlement fees in divorce?

There are no specific “settlement fees” in Australia when it comes to divorce and separation. The financial cost of a divorce can differ greatly depending on the level of cooperation between the parties involved and whether the case needs to go to court. 

The majority of divorces in Australia are settled without going to trial, which helps keep the average cost between $5,000 and $20,000. However, it’s important to remember that this is just an average, and your individual situation may differ.

The costs associated with resolving financial matters and arrangements for children during separation or divorce will vary depending on a number of factors, including:

Court Filing Fees: The initial fee for filing a divorce application is $1,060 (as of May 2024). However, a reduced fee of $350 may be available for those experiencing financial hardship.

Settlement Costs:

  • Cooperative and amicable settlement: $5,000+
    • This is the most cost-effective option when both parties can agree on the terms of their separation.
  • Mediated settlement: Typically falls within the $5,000 – $20,000 range
    • Mediation is a common step when some disagreements exist, and it helps avoid the higher costs associated with court proceedings.
  • Trial: Can exceed $100,000
    • Contested divorces that require court intervention are the most expensive due to legal representation and court fees.

Court fees and legal fees are two different things

It is important to understand that court fees are not the same thing as legal fees.

Court fees are payable to the court. Legal fees are payable to your lawyers.

It is important to be aware that legal fees in financial settlements are paid by each party directly to their own lawyers. In most cases, your fees would range from $5000 – $30,000 to finalise a financial matter.

Court Fees vs settlement fees

FeatureCourt FeesSettlement Fees
Paid to:Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA)Legal professionals (lawyers, mediators) involved in negotiating and finalising the settlement
Purpose:Cover administrative costs associated with filing applications, issuing subpoenas, requesting interim orders, and other court-related procedures.Compensate legal professionals for their time and expertise in assisting with negotiations, drafting agreements, and providing legal advice throughout the settlement process.
Amount:Set by the FCFCOA and vary based on the nature of the application and the stage of the court proceedings.Determined by the legal professionals involved, their hourly rates, and the complexity and duration of the settlement process.
When incurred:Throughout the court proceedings, starting with the initial filing fee and potentially continuing with additional fees for various applications and requests.During the negotiation and finalisation of the settlement agreement, typically before any court proceedings are initiated (if the settlement is successful).
Alternatives:Fee waivers or reductions may be available for individuals experiencing financial hardship.Mediation fees are often lower than attorney fees, providing a more cost-effective option for resolving disputes.
Additional notes:Court fees are mandatory and must be paid regardless of the outcome of the case. They are separate from legal fees, which are paid to lawyers representing each party in court.Settlement fees are not mandatory, as couples can attempt to reach an agreement on their own. However, seeking professional assistance often leads to more efficient and fair settlements, avoiding the higher costs and emotional strain associated with court battles.

If you have any questions regarding who pays court fees in financial settlement, please contact us at Justice Family Lawyers.

Our experienced court lawyers can provide you with the advice and support you need to understand applicable court fees and processes. We are here to support you every step of the way.

2 thoughts on “Who Pays Court Fees in Financial Settlement?”

  1. Hi I am attending my first court hearing at the Federal Circuit court on 28.6.24 for a General protections involving dismissal.
    i am representing myself.
    I am now wondering if i should get someone to represent me instead even though i have a good case.
    Could you please tell me now that I have said that I am representing myself can i change that at any stage of my hearing?
    I would like to get an idea what kind of cost would be involved.
    Thanks Maria

    1. Yes, you can switch to legal representation at any point during your hearing, even if you initially decided to represent yourself. Legal representation is advisable as a solicitor’s expertise and experience with the law and court procedures can increase your chances of a favorable outcome. The cost of representation varies greatly, depending on the solicitor’s experience and the firm’s fees. Please reach out to our firm directly for a detailed estimate on our costs.

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