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How much does Family Court cost?
It can cost thousands of dollars to take part in Family Court of Australia proceedings. There are two types of fees you may have to pay:
- Family lawyer’s fees
- Family Court costs
If you pay for legal representation, your family lawyer’s fees may add up to several thousands dollars - maybe even more. These fees are set by your lawyer, so you should confirm their fees before you ask a lawyer to represent you in a Family Court matter.
You may also have to pay Family Court costs, which are set by the federal government. There are two types of Family Court fees: filing fees and court event fees (see table below).
Family Court costs
|Filing fees||Application for consent orders||$165|
|Filing fees||Application for decree as to nullity||$1275|
|Filing fees||Application for decree as to nullity - reduced fee||$425|
|Filing fees||Application as to validity of marriage, divorce annulment||$1275|
|Filing fees||Initiating application (parenting or financial, final only)||$345|
|Filing fees||Initiating application (parenting or financial, final and interim)||$465|
|Filing fees||Initiating application (parenting and financial, final only)||$565|
|Filing fees||Initiating application (parenting and financial, final and interim)||$685|
|Filing fees||Response to initiating application (final)||$345|
|Filing fees||Interim order application/application in a case (parenting and/or financial)||$120|
|Filing fees||Notice of appeal to the full court including an appeal from the Federal Circuit Court||$1360|
|Filing fees||Application for leave to appeal||$1360|
|Filing fees||Application under the Trans Tasman Proceedings Act 2010||$120|
|Filing fees||Filing an application to register a New Zealand judgement||$110|
|Filing fees||Issue subpoena (including subpoena in an arbitration)||$55|
|Court event fees||Setting down for hearing fee (defended matter)||$860|
|Court event fees||Daily hearing fee (excluding the first hearing day)||$860|
|Court event fees||Conciliation conference||$395|
The Family Court might order the other party to pay some or all of your family lawyer’s fees, although the general rule is that each party pays their own fees.
How much is a family lawyer?
Family law lawyers are free to set their own fees, so you should always check what a family law lawyer charges before appointing one. A typical rate might be several hundred dollars per hour.
Given that most lawyers operate on a per-hour rate, the cost of taking part in a Family Law matter will depend on how much work your lawyer is required to do.
You will probably have to pay several thousand dollars in family lawyer fees - although in some Family Law matters, your fees might be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Again, ask for an estimate of total costs before you appoint a lawyer.
What is family law?
Family law is a branch of law that focuses on family relationship matters, such as divorces and child custody disputes. One important element of Australian family law is the Family Law Act 1975, which outlines the rights of children and the responsibilities that parents have towards their children. Under Australian family law, families are required to make a genuine effort to resolve child disputes before initiating legal action.
What is legal finance?
Legal finance is a personal loan that is used to pay for Family Court fees, Family Court lawyer fees or other legal fees.
Some lenders offer ‘legal loans’ that are specifically designed for legal matters, such as Family Court proceedings. Other lenders offer generic personal loans that can be used to fund an array of expenses - from holidays and weddings to renovations and Family Court matters.
If you want to take out a personal loan for a Family Court matter, a specialist legal loan won’t necessarily be better than a generic personal loan. That’s why you should compare interest rates, fees, features and other conditions before deciding on your choice of legal finance.
Are there loans for Family Court fees?
Yes, some lenders do provide personal loans for Family Court fees. Some of these personal loans are generic products; others are designed specifically for legal scenarios, such as Family Court matters.
These ‘Family Court loans’ or ‘legal loans’ might have some or all of these features:
- The loan contract might say that the funds have to be used to pay for Family Court fees and/or lawyer fees
- The lender might transfer these funds directly to your lawyer
- The lender might extend your loan term if the matter drags on for longer than expected
- The lender might want a copy of any agreement you sign with your lawyer
Who offers Family Court loans?
A range of lenders should be willing to provide Family Court loans, whether as specialist legal finance products or as generic personal loans that are then used to fund Family Court matters.
Personal loan providers tend to assess applications on a case-by-case basis - so they might be willing to finance some borrowers and some Family Court scenarios, while they might be unwilling to finance others.
Before you submit a Family Court loan application, ask the lender how likely it is to be approved, because a failed application might damage your credit score.
What is the Family Court?
The Family Court of Australia is a court that specialises in family disputes. The court operates in all states and territories except Western Australia (which instead has a similar body, known as the Family Court of Western Australia). The Family Court of Australia hears parenting cases - which may involve issues of child welfare and custody - as well as financial cases.
How do you take out a Family Court loan?
Taking out a Family Court loan should be the same as taking out a generic personal loan, although please note that each lender has its own application process.
Most lenders allow you to make applications over the internet; others may allow phone or in-branch applications. When you make a Family Court loan application, or any personal loan application, lenders will generally want information about your:
- Financial position
With a Family Court loan, the lender might also want you to provide details about the legal case, as well as any paperwork you’ve signed with your lawyer.
Depending on the lender and your specific situation, it’s possible that your Family Court loan may be assessed, approved and paid on the same day you submit your application.
How do you compare Family Court loans?
The way to compare Family Court loans, or any personal loans, is by focusing on these six areas:
- Interest rate - what is the loan’s advertised interest rate and comparison rate?
- Interest type - does the loan have a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate?
- Loan type - is the Family Court loan secured or unsecured?
- Loan term - how long do you have to pay off the loan?
- Fees - what are the possible upfront, ongoing and penalty fees?
- Features - does the loan offer redraw, early repayment and other features?
Property Personal Finance Writer
A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.
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There is a strong link between credit scores and personal loan interest rates because many lenders use credit scores to help decide what interest rates to offer to potential borrowers.
If you have a higher credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a lower-risk borrower. That means they’ll be keen to win your business, so they may offer you a lower interest rate if you apply for a personal loan.
If you have a lower credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a higher-risk borrower. That means they might be concerned about you defaulting on the loan and costing them money. As a result, they might protect themselves by charging you a higher interest rate.
In the best-case scenario, an application for a bad credit personal loan can be made within minutes and then be approved within 24 hours. However, if a lender needs more information or needs more time to verify the provided documents, the application process may take longer.
The worse your credit history, the harder you will find it to consolidate your debts, because lenders will be less willing to lend you money and will charge you higher interest rates.
However, people with bad credit histories can make debt consolidation work by following this three-step process:
- First, find a lender willing to give you a bad credit personal loan. This process will be simplified if you go through a finance broker or use a comparison website like RateCity.
- Second, make sure the interest repayments on your new loan are less than the repayments on the loans being replaced.
- Third, instead of spending those savings, use them to pay off the new loan.
It can be more difficult for unemployed borrowers to successfully apply for a personal loan. Most lenders require borrowers to have a regular income available to cover the cost of loan repayments.
If you’re self-employed, or if less than half of your income comes from Centrelink, you may not be eligible for some personal loan options. Consider contacting the lender before applying.
Some lenders will consider personal loan applications from a borrower with bad credit if the borrower has a family member with good credit willing to guarantee the loan (a guarantor).
If the borrower fails to pay back their personal loan, it will be their guarantor’s responsibility to cover the repayments.
Many borrowers use quick loans to cover short-term or urgent costs, such as paying for car repairs, medical bills, or replacing broken appliances or electronics. Quick loans often have high interest rates compared with regular personal loans.
Before applying for a quick loan, consider your other available options, such as working out a payment plan or applying for an advance or extension.
Few, if any, lenders would be willing to give guaranteed approval for a bad credit personal loan. Borrowers with bad credit histories can have more complicated financial circumstances than other borrowers, so lenders will want time to study your application.
It’s all about risk. When someone applies for a personal loan, the lender evaluates how likely that borrower would be to repay the money. Lenders are more willing to give personal loans to borrowers with good credit than bad credit because there’s a higher likelihood that the personal loan will be repaid.
So a borrower with good credit is more likely to have a loan approved and to be approved faster, while a borrower with bad credit is less likely to have a loan approved and, if they are approved, may be approved slower.
If you need to borrow $2000 or less, alternatives to getting a personal loan or payday loan include using a credit card or the redraw facility of your home, car or personal loan.
Before you borrow $2000 on a credit card, remember that interest will continue being charged on what you owe until you clear your credit card balance. To minimise your interest, consider prioritising paying off your credit card.
Before you draw down $2000 in extra repayments from your home, car or personal loan using a redraw facility, note that fees and charges may apply, and drawing money from your loan may mean your loan will take longer to repay, costing you more in total interest.
Borrowers who take out bad credit personal loans don’t just pay higher interest rates than on regular personal loans, they also get loaned less money. Each lender has its own policies and loan limits, but you’ll find it hard to get approved for a bad credit personal loan above $50,000.
The Australian personal loans market contains dozens of lenders offering several hundred different products. Personal loans are available through a range of institutions, including:
- The big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac)
- Smaller banks (such as Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank and MyState)
- Mutual banks (such as Heritage Bank, Greater Bank and Newcastle Permanent)
- Credit unions (such as People’s Choice Credit Union, BCU and Community First Credit Union)
- Non-bank lenders (such as Pepper Money, Liberty and RACV)
- Peer-to-peer marketplaces (such as Harmoney, SocietyOne and RateSetter)
There are three main ways to access personal loans. You can go through a comparison website, such as RateCity. You can use a finance broker. Or you can directly contact the lender.