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Costs Awards in the Family Court

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Costs Awards in the Family Court


Up until a few short years ago, awards of costs in the Family Court were very rare. This was because it was generally considered that parties ought to be able to come to the Family Court to resolve domestic disputes without fearing huge costs being awarded against them if they were unsuccessful.  But this attitude is changing.


Now, Rule 207(a) of the Family Court Rules 2002 provides that Rule 45 of the District Court Rules 1992 applies to proceedings in the Family Court.  However, the District Court Rules 1992 have been amended effective from 1 February 2005 by revoking rules 45 to 47A.

See our topic - Family Court Rules 2002

The amended rule 45 of the District Court Rules 1992 provides that costs are at the discretion of the Court. 


Rule 46 then sets out the principles to be applied to the determination of costs.  It provides that an award of costs should reflect the complexity and significance of the proceeding and should be assessed by applying a daily recovery rate to the time considered reasonable for the case.


Rule 47 sets out the categories for the scale of costs.

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Feedback / Reviews / Blogs on this topic
"Just what I wanted. A good gutsy Judge and a change of policy a few years ago. About bloody time. Why should peple get away costs free by bringing such silly cases without feeling the pinch of costs? I used this stuff. I only got $400 but I made my point. Thanks.

Trevor - Rotorua - May 2007"

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Custody/Access/Guardianship
". . . . bloody helpful for me to get through the thicket of Rules and procedures . . . Frankie - Tauranga - February 2007"
"I just want to agree . . . JCH - Auckland"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Custody/Access/Guardianship
"Need some advise as to division of relationship property. Been married 4.5years. No children. Married in Florida and then he moved us to NZ. We then bought two properties which I have always maintained household wise and financially since I always earned a far more significant amount of money he did. Do I have to split 50/50 or is it possible to make a case for more to my favour? Thanks Paulette

Netlaw replies - We assume the properties are in NZ. If they are situated overseas then our Courts cannot determine on them.

Assuming that they are here in NZ then the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 applies. After three years of marriage they are divided equally.

However, there is a possible claim, although it is not easy. Section 13 of the Act establishes the 50/50 split . . . but then says that if "there are extraordinary circumstances that would render equal sharing repugnant to justice" then the Court can, in its discretion, go outside equal sharing. But it is difficult to establish. A disparity of financial contribution is not enough. It must really be a combination of factors within the marriage. But it is worth further detailed analysis.

Also, section 14 applies to marriages of short duration, ie - under three years although the Court can declare a longer marriage to be one of short duration in certain circumstances. All cases are different but if he had an affair or string of affairs or lived apart for significant periods of time then you just might get the marriage declared to be one of short duration. The split can then be less than 50/50 "where the contribution of 1 spouse to the marriage has clearly been disproportionately greater than the contribution of the other spouse".

Hope this helps . . . . Netlaw


"Netlaw, a little advice needed thanks. I was employed overseas for thirty odd years before returning to NZ. About twenty years ago I started contributing to a super scheme. I re-married some 6 years ago, so 14 years before new wife. I ended up being given a pension due to medical grounds, hurt on duty. Now that I receive a pension every fortnight, how is this factored into relationship property?
Netlaw replies: Specific advice is required but the super policy IS relationship property, including the amount saved before the marriage. A specialised accountant called an actuary values the policy based on a "looking into the future" approach which also discounts for variables."

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Custody/Access/Guardianship
"Really helpful "one stop shop". This topic attracted me to your website but when I opened up all the topics - WOW - I am going to join up a second time. I have used it for Wills, Neighbour Disputes, Trusts and Speeding Infringements and have read most of the topics. Think I will go to Law School! Great. Kayla - South Dunedin"
"Helpful and interesting. Se Ya again, Netlaw - Jon - Auckland Central"
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