Facing an uneven legal arena? The court can order ones wealthy spouse to pay a person’s costs

Facing an uneven legal arena? The court can order ones wealthy spouse to pay a person’s costs

- in Personal Finance

A separated spouse in a law suit can ask for what are known as “interim expenses,” orders that the richer spouse pay an amount into the spouse in need to use for law firms and experts

Family law cases is usually complex.

Many provinces have rules requiring a separating couple to value their means and debts at the go out with of marriage and the night out of separation or trial offer and “equalize” the difference. All states have laws in place which will set out the way in which a spouse’s income must be calculated while determining child and spousal support.

While determining the value of some possessions, such as publicly traded shares as well as cash investments, is relatively basic, many assets or debt are not nearly so easy in order to value.

Sophisticated legal assistance together with expert valuation advice may be required. Chartered business valuators, accountants and actuaries are regularly called upon to assist the lawyer, the buyer and the court on problems which can range from valuing stock shares held by a spouse from a private company, to whether the cost of a debt owed into a party should be discounted given it may not be collectable. If a spouse ‘s no T-4’d employee, determining money for support purposes can be similarly difficult.

But what happens when the parties are not in an even financial position? As contingency service fees are not available in family law, how could a spouse with very few assets or little money retain the professionals required to permit the moneyed spouse’s experts to be “evaluated,” or even hire counsel that will argue the matter in court?

In Ontario, the answer is found in Rule Twenty four(12) of the Family Law Policies, which say, “a Courts can make an order that a party pay an amount of money to a different party to cover part as well as all of the expenses of continuing the case, including lawyer’s service fees.” Other jurisdictions in Quebec have similar rules.

Before trial

A segregated spouse in litigation might ask a court just before trial for what are known as “meantime disbursements,” orders that the wealthier spouse pay an amount into the spouse in need to use for legal professionals and experts.

There is, however, a threshold test before interim disbursements may be given. In 2003, the Supreme Court docket of Canada in B.C. v. Okanagan Indian Music band, confirmed that to be permitted interim disbursements, a litigant have to show that the case cannot proceed unless the funds are awarded. In addition, the party have to show that their position is usually sufficiently meritorious to make a case for pursuit, and that special situation exist to allow the Court to exercise this extraordinary remedy.

The limit for these payments in family law cases, however is not as significant. In Ontario, a family rules litigant need not demonstrate that she or he is certainly entitled to an “extraordinary solution.”

The leading family law case with Stuart v. Stuart confirms that the trial may exercise its discernment to order payments under Concept 24(12) simply to “level the playing field,” so that both are equally able to provide or perhaps test disclosure, make or take into account offers and possibly advance so that you can trial. Stuart specifically requires, nonetheless, that the amounts requested become necessary and reasonable, considering the needs of the case as well as the monies available.

Stuart does require that the balance of the Okanagan check be met, confirming which the spouse seeking disbursements ought to show an incapacity to fund the amounts and that there should be a meritorious claim.

Wealthier spouses can take heart in the judge’utes cautionary note in Stuart, however, when she warned that a settlement under Rule 24(15) does not immunize the recipient spouse from having costs requested against her or him in the litigation, and that the payment should not be one that gives the recipient any “license to litigate.”

That said, when the threshold in Stuart has been handed down, the amounts paid for the recipient spouse can be significant. In Ontario, awards of $150,000 to $250,000 are not uncommon; in Alberta, awards are already as high as $500,000.


While this may seem windfall for the recipient spouse, in a great many complex matters, one other half alone may spend $50,A thousand or more on experts’ fees, with legal fees being in excess of that amount. While experts have an responsibility to the court to be self-sufficient and not act as an recommend for either party, sensible experts often disagree. Appraisal is as much of an art for a science, and varying valuation methods can result in experts being a few hundred thousand — or even several vast amounts of money apart.

In most cases, if an sequence is made under Rule Twenty-four(12), the amounts could simply be an advance by the moneyed spouse to the other against a fee that is ultimately due.

When creating an order for interim disbursement, the court has discretion to make a decision both when the payment has to be made by the wealthier spouse, and the way in which a payment will probably be accounted for.

Often the payment is certainly advanced against a future equalization (property or home) payment owing by the wealthy spouse. In many cases, it is clear early in the litigation that your property payment is owed — the only issue is “how much.”

Courts even have the discretion to order the fact that payment be advanced to be a loan to the recipient loved one, or on account of spousal support. And often, a court will simply obtain payment to be “uncharacterized,” meaning that if or how the payor is ascribed will be determined in the future by the trial offer judge.

Payments under Rule Twenty-four(12) may also be “without opinion,” meaning that if the litigation continues on and further fees are necessary to become expended by the less rich spouse, she or he may revisit court and request an additional cost.

Family law litigation can be an high-priced undertaking, but interim disbursements can assist balance the scale.

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