10277 97th Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0L9
Call: 780-944-9007Toll Free: 1-888-944-9007

Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases?

One of the biggest concerns for many people when separating is the cost of divorce. The cost of going to a Family Court in Canada can be high; therefore, when spouses go through the separation process, they will want to know who will pay all the legal fees. However, it’s important to note that court costs can be broken down into two key areas:

  • The cost of the fees charged by the professionals relating to the litigation, such as lawyers and process servers. 
  • The costs for filing documents with the courts or any other fees people must pay directly to the court. 

When paying for attorney fees in Canada, people pay for the Family Court system via their taxes. Still, when it comes to getting a child custody lawyer, this is another specific component that needs addressing directly. The changes to the Divorce Act that were enacted on July 1, 2020, state that efforts should be made to avoid court and the associated fees, which can also significantly reduce the professional’s fees. Where possible, parties should try mediation or arbitration to resolve the concerns; however, in the case of child custody, this is not always possible. 

What Are the Factors Affecting the Cost of a Child Custody Lawyer?

When separated couples opt to go to Family Court for child custody, there are several factors that each party needs to bear in mind. Getting a reputable child custody lawyer is essential, and these are some of the elements each party needs to consider:

  • The amount of time required for the case. 
  • The overall experience or reputation of the legal specialist. 
  • The uniqueness or difficulty of the case. 
  • The miscellaneous costs, such as utilities. 


There are other factors that parties need to bear in mind, including the following:

  • Any previous agreement between the parents. 
  • The length of the court hearings and the trial. 
  • If any existing child custody order needs to be modified. 
  • If a parent is absent in the court’s presence, which may require one parent to pay the absent parent’s legal fees.

The Fees Associated With a Child Custody Lawyer

There are many critical fees involved in getting a child custody lawyer, which includes the following:


Consultation Fee

This is the fee the child custody lawyer will charge for the initial meeting, also known as the visiting fee. Depending on the case, the child custody lawyer might waive the fee on rare occasions. 


Flat Fee Arrangement

This is paid upon the overall completion of the case. 


Referral Fees

Suppose the child custody lawyer needs to seek assistance from a different lawyer in more complex cases, which could relate to domestic violence or abuse. In that case, the child custody lawyer may charge a portion of the entire fee. 


Hourly Rate

Child custody lawyers will charge a fixed amount for each hour of service. They will vary depending on the service type, for example, collecting evidence, legal research, or straightforward consultancy. 

Legal Fees

This is the total amount for the entire legal procedure from beginning to end. 


Retainer Fee

The retainer fee is a down payment and is usually calculated on the standard hourly rate of a child custody lawyer. This fee is only decided on in exceptional cases. 


Miscellaneous Fees

Several mitigating factors can dictate miscellaneous fees, for example, the number of witnesses or the availability of evidence.

Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases?

In child custody cases, the answer to this question is very straightforward. While each party may have to pay legal fees as the case progresses, we should look at Rule 18(14) of the Family Law Rules for the answer. 

It states that when a party gets an outcome that is as good or better for them as a previous formal offer that the party has formally made, the other party should pay either all or substantially all of the legal fees. 

Therefore, a party who wins an offer settled in court can expect the other party to pay the legal fees for both parties and reimburse any costs incurred during the process.

Family and Criminal Law Services in Edmonton

We hope this article has helped you understand the components relating to child custody costs in Edmonton. If the law services you are looking for are related to child custody, or any family law, you can call the law offices of Robert M. Kassian today. Bob offers more than 30 years of experience in general Criminal and Family Law cases and will work diligently to protect your rights and future.