At HMC Lawyers, we take a collaborative approach to family law, and we focus on finding positive solutions through negotiation and mediation, only turning to litigation when necessary. One of the reasons for this is the costs that can be associated with going to court to resolve matters. In some cases, the court may award costs to one of the parties involved in the litigation, but in other cases, such as one recently heard by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the courts may leave each party responsible for their own costs.
Father encouraged to have one-on-one time with son
The original trial dealt with several issues, one of which was a parenting regime between the father and the parties’ son. The child was reluctant to stay with his father, and the mother was resistant to shared parenting, but the court found it clear that the son craved and valued time with his father. The court found that counseling for the child as well as reunification therapy would be helpful.
Following the trial, things did not progress as planned, and the reunification therapy was subject to a number of delays which led to the father concluding he was no longer up to the “fight” and said he would back off from parenting and allow the child to determine when and if he wanted contact with him. As a result, the mother was granted sole parenting and decision-making while the father continued to make child support payments.
Mother seeks costs from proceedings
Following those developments the mother stated she wished to seek costs from the father, amounting to $20,935. However, the amount requested was not the full amount she spent on the legal proceedings.
The mother told the court that the father was responsible for most of the discord, including the involvement of Child and Family Services, which resulted in the child being removed from the mother’s care for a number of months, as well as interim applications and case management meetings. The mother also said the father was responsible for the poor relationship he has with their child as well as a public campaign to vilify her.
The father argued that this is a situation where each party should bear their own costs, and that most of the arguments pertain to his post-trial conduct and that only conduct during the trial should be considered.
Should the mother be awarded costs?
The general position on costs in civil litigation is that the losing party pays costs, though that is subject to the courts general discretion.
In this case, the court noted the matter had been one of high conflict for some time, and that even during the trial the court had made it clear that both the mother and the father were responsible for the dysfunction in their relationship and the troubles in the relationship between the father and the son.
In addition, the court also said there was no winner at trial, and that the mother was unsuccessful in limiting the father’s parenting time, while the father was unsuccessful in asking to be the child’s primary parent. The court said, “ To the end of the trial, there is no basis for the mother to declare herself to be the winner and thus entitled to costs. The father did not seriously pursue a claim for costs himself, and argued only that he should not be liable for the mother’s costs.” The court agreed with the father and awarded no costs.
At HMC Lawyers, our approach focuses on finding positive solutions through negotiation and mediation on behalf of our clients. Our family law team endeavours to resolve disputes in an efficient and timely manner, thereby minimizing stress to our clients. If court is required, we have the support of a respected litigation firm.