Ron Ashley v Carol Shelby [2016] NZFC 2213

Published 31 July 2016

Costs contribution — Care of Children Act 2004, s 135A — Lawyer for the Child costs — Pomeroy [2016] NZHC 183. The applicant in costs contribution proceedings was required to pay $1,203.63. The Judge ordered that in the absence of exceptional circumstances the respondent, who was legally aided, was not required to contribute (Pomeroy). The original proceedings related to the finalising of contact arrangements under the Act. The Court expended $3, 611.27 on Lawyer for the Child. Under s135A of the Act the Court may require parties in Care of Children Act proceedings to reimburse the Crown a proportion of the costs of Lawyer for the Child and any s 133 report. Regulations set the prescribed proportion at two-thirds of the actual costs paid by the Crown and under s 135A(3) each party must pay an equal share. The Court has discretion to decline to make an order against a party if the order would cause “serious hardship” (s 135A(2)) or, if the one-third proportion is considered inappropriate in the circumstances of the case, to substitute that amount with a different proportion (s 135A(4)). Because the applicant had only filled out his partner’s income on the forms and left the section relating to his own income blank, it was not possible for him to succeed on a claim of financial hardship. The case had no unusual features to justify dispensation under s 135A(4). **Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements.