Why TRANSPARENCy & VALUE IN LEGAL FEES IS IMPORTANT
We understand that family law fees can be very opaque when you're trying to figure our how much the cost will really be, and how you can budget for that cost. We also understand that hourly numbers are somewhat meaningless if there is no linkage to what can be accomplished in a set amount of time. We seek to provide true transparency and value in the legal fees we offer to our clients.
We offer you the transparency of actually posting our true fees online for everyone to see. We offer you the value of fee ranges for how much can usually be accomplished within a set financial expenditure.
We understand that affordability of family law legal services can be a significant issue when you're in a family crises., and offer you fee predictability to the greatest degree possible, together with an early assessment of cost versus likely benefit of taking particular legal steps in your case. We invite you to read our article: HOW MUCH DOES A DIVORCE REALLY COST IN ONTARIO? TOP 5 TIPS FOR SAVING YOURSELF LOTS OF MONEY ON A FAMILY LAWYER
Harmonized Sales Tax and disbursements are in addition to our legal fees.
WHAT TRANSPARENCY & VALUE MEANS TO US
1. Flat fee family law consultations - to give you preliminary advice about your rights in family law.
Consultation Fee: $350.
Our consultation fee includes an in-person, teleconference or video conference meeting with a lawyer who will review your relevant documents you provide (like court documents) in advance of the meeting, gather and analyse the facts of your unique situation, and explain all your family law options, including likely outcomes and predicted costs. You will be able to ask your questions, and we will hopefully achieve our goal of providing you with "no fear" family law by the end of the meeting.
You will become an official "client" of the firm, but will not be obligated to pay any additional fees unless you explicitly request additional services.
Some clients who are contemplating separation or divorce like to take advantage of a consultation, and only return to the firm months or even years later to proceed with the process. And some decide to stay in the relationship, but are armed with the knowledge of the likely legal outcomes should of of the partners leave.
Other clients who come for consultations are facing imminent or actual family court proceedings, but want to get a better handle on their options before formally retaining counsel to go to court or attempting to handle the court process by themselves.
2. Hourly fees for ongoing family law advice, negotiations and drafting - for family law processes like separation agreements and divorce applications. In comparing law firm fees, you should likely not focus on the precise hourly fee but rather on the value and transparency offered in the billing, and whether there are hidden extras. An hourly fee that is 30% lower but which results in 90% more time being expended than another firm won't be the bargain that it seems. Equally be wary of the seemingly very cheap or very expensive hourly fees if you are comparing firms, as neither may be good value.
Our fees are competitive in any market, and very competitive in larger urban markets, as we are willing to transparently pass on our savings on big city downtown overheads to our clients, while still providing value of experience which includes countless successful settlements and litigated outcomes at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Ontario Divisional Court, Court of Appeal for Ontario, and Supreme Court of Canada.
Managing Lawyer Gordon S. Campbell: $375/hour
Associate Lawyers Matthew MacLean & Karen Kernisant: $275/hour
We find separation agreements can usually be negotiated and drafted for between $2500 and $5000, depending on complexity and level of collaboration of the parties. Drafting and filing for divorce is an additional but lower cost than a separation agreement.
3. Hourly and daily fees for family court representation and advocacy - for family law motions and trials. Degree of opposition and evidentiary complexity are the two factors that most drive cost in family law court cases. It's unfortunately impossible to completely get an accurate read on either of those factors prior to undertaking a case. But what we can promise is to keep you advised of evolving costs so you can evaluate future budgeting and settlement prospects. The last thing we want is for any client to spend more on a case than it is "worth." Thus for instance contested hearings over child custody are usually much more justifiable than a hearing over smaller amounts of property or support where hearing costs could exceed the quantum in dispute.
Preparation, drafting and negotiation time will be billed at the hourly rates quoted above. For in-court time for case conferences, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, contested hearing or other matters, billings will be on a half or full day court basis.
Half Day Court Hearing
- Managing Lawyer Gordon S. Campbell: $1500
- Associate Lawyer Karen Kernisant: $1100
Full Day Court Hearing
- Managing Lawyer Gordon S. Campbell: $3000
- Associate Lawyer Karen Kernisant: $2200
The reason we (and others) need to charge half and full day rates is that nothing else can be scheduled during those special times reserved for your hearing.
We find family law motion/application (such as a motion to change support, access, or move with a child) costs to completion of a contested hearing, including all document drafting, preparation for and appearances at case conferences, settlement conferences, and a contested hearing, typically range from $15,000 to $25,000, depending on complexity, the number of court appearances prior to an actual contested hearing, the length of the hearing, and the amount of negotiation that takes place to settle with the opposing party prior to the hearing.
Family law trials where everything is in issue (custody, support, division of property) tend to consume far more preparation time and incur far more court hearings (including a trial management conference) prior to final judgment that a motion/application (which usually only deal with one issue based on a prior order), though the ability of the parties to narrow the issues can significantly reduce costs. We find such trials typically incur fees of $30,000 and up depending on degree of conflict, amount of issues, and volume of evidence, all of which will drive the number of trial days required. We do everything possible to reduce your total days in court, which can dramatically reduce your costs.
4. Flat block fee plus disbursements family law appeals to the Divisional Court & Court of Appeal - to give you price certainty (disbursements are usually only transcripts, copying & binding, couriers/process servers & filing fees).
Interlocutory (temporary) family orders originating in the Superior Court of Justice are appealed to the Divisional Court (part of the Superior Court of Justice), but require leave (permission) of that Court to be appealed, thus it is sort of like running two appeals: one to get permission to appeal, and then a second one which constitutes the actual appeal once leave has been granted. Therefore interlocutory order family appeals can unfortunately cost more than final order appeals, as essentially the work is done twice (with some overlap). The Divisional Court appeals are done in regional centres throughout Ontario, like all Eastern Ontario appeals being done out of Ottawa.
Final family orders issued by the Superior Court of Justice are appealable to the Court of Appeal for Ontario which only sits in Toronto.
Fees for family appeals (to the Divisional Court or Court of Appeal) typically range from $20,000 to $30,000 depending on complexity, the volume of trial evidence (transcripts and exhibits), and whether leave to appeal must first be sought. This includes the drafting of a detailed Factum of legal argument (typically around 30 pages), the preparation of the Case on Appeal (a compendium of the trial record), research and assembly for the Book of Authorities, and in-person court appearance for the oral argument of the appeal (typically a half day to full day in court) before the Court of Appeal in Toronto or Divisional Court in a regional centre. Three judges hear appeal, one judge hears applications for leave to appeal.
Motions brought in the course of an appeal (such as to extend time for service and filing of a notice of appeal, or to file fresh evidence), will add to the cost of an appeal, with the cost partly depending on whether the motion will be heard at the same time as the appeal itself, or will lead to a separate hearing prior to the appeal. Costs typically range from $5,000 to $10,000 for an appellate motion in addition to underlying appeal costs as a separate Factum of argument, Appeal Record, and Book of Authorities must usually be prepared, in addition to court appearance for oral arugument (which is sometimes done by way of teleconference for a motion). One judge usually hears appellate motions, unless heard at the same time as the substantive appeal argument.
5. No extra charges for disbursements some other firms charge:
- you'll never pay for travel time or mileage anywhere within Eastern Ontario or Toronto - that's right, NO TRAVEL COSTS, ever. Some lawyers even within Toronto will charge you from the minute they leave their offices;
- travel charged elsewhere in Ontario at flat block all-inclusive reasonable rates (since after all your paying for us as lawyer, not as travellers);
- other disbursements are charged at the lowest reasonable rates, like photocopies at 15 cents per page.
6. We accept major credit cards for most family law payments.
7. We accept Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) family law certificates in select cases within Cornwall/SD&G, Brockville/Leeds Grenville, L'Orignal/Prescott-Russell and Ottawa. Gordon S. Campbell is a member of LAO's Family Law Panel, Child Protection Panel, and Domestic Violence Panel. Matthew MacLean and Karen Kernisant are members of LAO's Family Law Panel.