What if I cannot afford to pay court costs?

Costs are generally awarded to the successful party following the conclusion of a court proceeding. Often, costs can cause financial hardship to a litigant who has been ordered to pay costs. If costs interfere with a person’s ability to provide for a child when the child is in that party’s care, the court may consider certain factors before departing from the usual rule regarding costs.

In MacLean v. Mio, 2011 BCSC 148, Pearlman J. discussed the financial hardship factors to consider in a request by one party to depart from the usual rule regarding costs. He said:

47  An award of costs in the amount claimed by Ms. MacLean would cause the respondent some financial hardship. While financial hardship is a factor for the court to consider, it is insufficient on its own for a departure from the usual rule that costs should follow the event: S.D.W. v. C.E.W.W., 2006 BCSC 162, citing Richter v. Richter (2004), 6 C.P.C. (6th) 181, 2004 BCSC 214. However, here I have also identified conduct of the claimant in the litigation which affects the exercise of the court’s discretion to award costs.

48  If the claimant were deprived of her costs, then the success she attained on the division of family assets would be substantially eroded. The award in this case reflected the fact that the need of the claimant to become and remain economically self sufficient is much greater than that of the respondent.

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