Awarding costs against the Respondent
Justice Carmody ordered the Respondent (ie me) to pay $5,000 towards the legal fees of the Applicant. This was despite the fact that:
1. I had made written offers for settlement and the mother had made none.
2. Residency orders were closer to what I had sought than what the mother had sought.
3. that generally Respondents do not have to pay legal fees of the Applicant.
Eddy Lago, solicitor for the Applicant had argued that I, the Respondent, had drawn things out so the two-day Final Hearing was longer than it needed to be. I pointed out that cross-examination of the father (me) by the mother's barrister was significantly longer than my cross-examination of the mother.
I rang up to find about the procedure for appealing against these costs. I was told that I would need transcripts of the Final Hearing which would cost me about $3,000 ! I was also told by the Family Court in Brisbane that a board of Family Court judges would hear the Appeal and that “Appeals are rarely successful because the judge’s decision is usually discretionary, and other judges do not like to overturn discretionary decisions.”
Sort it out yourself
In my Orders Sought I asked that pick-ups and drop-offs of the child be reciprocated - ie each parent do their own pick-ups such that drop-offs are eliminated. Justice Carmody didn't see this as a reasonable request and ordered that the father do all pick-ups and drop-offs.
I asked that the mother use the child's surname as described on his birth certificate (the father's surname) rather than changing it to her own, to avoid confusion as to which name our son would be listed under at school, with Medicare etc etc. Justice Carmody suggested that this was one issue that in the new spirit of cooperation, the father and mother could resolve amongst themselves. One year later this issue has not been resolved. Surely the Court is there to make decisions when no agreement can be reached by the parties.
An easy obvious fair general policy solution would be for boys to take the surname of their father and girls to take the surname of their mother.