Stage 2 – initiating litigation

Stage 2 – initiating litigation

Under Stage 2, these fees are available (where applicable):

This fee table is effective from 1 January 2017. For fees prior to this, see Archived versions of the Handbook.

Co​unsel fees

Where counsel is briefed at stage 2, except in child support matters and interim contest hearings, their fees are to be paid out lump sum fees paid to lawyers. Separate fees for counsel are only payable at stages 2G, 3, 4 and 5 in family law matters.

Where a lawyer acts as solicitor advocate, the fees payable shall be the fees otherwise payable to counsel, including for conferences.

See Fee table 4.3 – counsel costs and daily circuit fees.

Stage 2A – ap​plication for determination of parentage, Magistrates’ Court

Under a stage 2A grant, fees are available (where applicable) in the following matters:

  • parenting disputes
  • combined parenting and property disputes
  • child (and adult child) maintenance
  • spousal maintenance.
Service/proceedings Court Fee
2A – application for parentage determination in state Magistrates' Court Magistrates Court $742
Distance Allowance N/A $184

Entitle​ments and Conditions

  • The stage 2A grant is a lump sum grant and covers:
    • taking instructions
    • preparing court documents
    • court attendance(s).

The 2A grant includes all necessary appearances and no subsequent appearance fees are available.

  • When a fee is claimed for the client's share of the cost of parentage testing and the outcome favours the client, the lawyer is usually required to seek an order from the court for the other party to pay the full cost of the testing. For more information, see costs recovery.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2B – application for a recovery, information or location or order in any court

Under a stage 2B grant, these fees are available (where applicable):

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2B.1 – prepare and appear in an application for a recovery, information or location order Federal family courts $1104 (includes $565 for first appearance)
2B.2 – first subsequent appearance due to an adjournment in matters involving an application for a recovery order Federal family courts $565
2B.3 – preparation for a second subsequent appearance in exceptional circumstances in matters involving an application for a recovery order Federal family courts $355
2B.4 – second subsequent appearance in exceptional circumstances in matters involving an application for a recovery order Federal family courts $565
2B.5 – prepare and appear in an application for a recovery, information or location order Magistrates’ Court $924 (includes $408 for appearance)

Entitlements and conditions

  • In matters involving applications for information or location orders only (and not recovery orders) the stage 2B.1 and 2B.5 grants are lump sum grants and cover:
    • taking instructions
    • preparing court documents
    • court attendance(s)
    • preparation and filing of consent orders, where appropriate.

Subsequent appearance fees are only available in matters involving applications for a recovery order in the federal family courts (whether or not a location or information order is also sought). In matters involving a location or information matter only, the 2B.1 and 2B.5 fees include all necessary appearances.

  • A second subsequent appearance fee in matters involving applications for a recovery order in the federal family courts is only available in exceptional circumstances. Where a second subsequent hearing fee is claimed, the reasons why the second adjournment was required must be retained on the file. See the Notes on the Commonwealth family law and child support guidelines for more information.
  • In matters involving recovery, location and information orders, either a stage 2B grant or a stage 2E – initiating litigation, federal family courts grant (or stage 2C – initiating litigation, Magistrates’ Court) may be available. For information on the appropriate fee pathway, see the criteria set out in Guideline 2 – recovery, location and information orders, the Recovery order flowchart and the Location/information order flowchart, available in the Notes on the Commonwealth family law and child support guidelines.
  • Under a stage 2B grant, where proceedings for the recovery or location of the child are concluded and there are other parenting issues remaining to be resolved, the lawyer is not automatically entitled to claim subsequent appearance fees to resolve the parenting issues.
  • Where the parenting issues remaining to be resolved cannot be deemed urgent under any of points 2 to 7 of the definition of urgent matter, we expect the parties to seek to resolve the remaining issues through our Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) in the first instance. The lawyer should assess the matter against the relevant FDRS guideline (guideline 1.2, 1.7, or 1.10) and apply for a stage 1B – preparation for early intervention FDRS and stage 1C – representation at FDRS conference, where the guideline is met.
  • The stage 2B.3 fee is only claimable where the court has requested additional preparation to be undertaken prior to the matter returning. It can be claimed where the lawyer prepares for a subsequent appearance in accordance with the court’s direction, regardless of whether the subsequent appearance occurs.
  • Where counsel is briefed under a stage 2B grant, no additional fees are available under this grant. Fees for counsel are to be paid out of this lump sum fee. Separate fees for counsel are only available at stages 2G, 3, 4 or 5.
  • The person requesting assistance for an application for a recovery order must seek a costs order against the other party from the court. For more information, see costs recovery.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2C – initiating litigation, Magistrates’ Court

Under a stage 2C grant, fees (where applicable) to initiate court proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court for final or interim orders in Commonwealth family law and child support matters, excluding applications for:

  • parentage determinations (see Stage 2A) or for
  • recovery, location or information orders (see Stage 2B).

Where the matter is transferred to the federal family courts, the lawyer will be entitled to a stage 2D and three further stage 2F grants, available on the same invoice.

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2C.1 – preparation and appearance in Commonwealth family law matters and child support matters Magistrates’ Court $1795
2C.2 – subsequent appearance fees in child support matters only Magistrates’ Court $408

Entitlements and conditions

  • The stage 2C.1 grant is initially a lump sum fee and covers:
    • taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits
    • communications
    • preparing documents
    • filing and service of documents
    • obtaining short service
    • court attendance
    • obtaining consent orders, if appropriate.

In all matters other than child support matters, this includes all court appearances. No additional appearance fees are payable unless the matter is transferred to the federal family courts.

without an extension of assistance.

  • Where an advice and negotiation grant has been claimed in relation to the matter, the stage 2C grant will be reduced by the amount already paid under the advice and negotiation grant. This applies only where no earlier grant has been reduced by the equivalent of the advice and negotiation grant. Where the 2C grant follows the advice and negotiation grant, lawyers must claim the reduced fee from the ATLAS invoice, not the full fee for that subsequent grant (the invoice preparation item to be claimed is Prep – Adv and Negs Claimed).
  • With the exception of child support matters, the distance fee is not available under this grant as it is expected that proceedings will be issued in the nearest court.

Stage 2D – transfer from state Magistrates’ Court to federal family courts

Under a stage 2D grant, fees are available (where applicable) to transfer proceedings from the state Magistrates Court to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court in Commonwealth family law and child support matters.

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2D – Commonwealth family law and child support matters: Transfer from Magistrates’ Court to federal family courts Federal family courts $1288 (includes $565 appearance fee)

Child support matters only

Service/proceedings Court Fee
Conciliation conference/interim orders Federal family courts $552
Counsel’s fees – conference (up to 3 hours at $209 per hour) Federal family courts Up to $627
Counsel’s fees – appearance Federal family courts $1489

Procedural appearances (not available in child support matters)​

Service/proceedings Court Fee
Inspecting subpoenaed documents* Federal family courts $368
Appearance at defended subpoena list Federal family courts $552
Telephone mention Federal family courts $184
Mention, directions hearing or callover Federal family courts $368
Distance allowance Federal family courts $184

*The fee to attend court to inspect subpoenaed documents is payable per attendance, not per document. Lawyers are expected to minimise the need for multiple attendances to inspect documents. This is because the inspection of documents is considered to be preparation for trial and should primarily be covered by the 3A lump sum fees.

Entitlements a​nd conditions

  • The stage 2D grant is a lump sum grant and covers:
    • preparation
    • court documents
    • court appearances.
  • Different additional fees are available in Commonwealth family law matters and in child support matters.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2E – initiating lit​igation, federal family courts

Under a stage 2E grant, fees are available (where applicable) to initiate or respond to federal family courts.

Parenting and combined parenting and property matters

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2E.1 – parenting matters only: Preparation and appearance Federal family courts $2208 (includes $565 appearance fee)
2E.2 – combined parenting and property matters: Preparation and appearance Federal family courts $2576 (includes $565 appearance fee)
Three subsequent appearance fees Federal family courts $920 per appearance (includes $565 appearance fee)
2E.3 – attendance at a conciliation conference in combined parenting and property matters only Federal family courts $920

Procedural appearances (not available in child support matters)

Service/proceedings Court Fee
Inspecting subpoenaed documents* Federal family courts $368
Appearance at defended subpoena list Federal family courts $552
Telephone mention Federal family courts $184
Mention, directions hearing or callover Federal family courts $368

*The fee to attend court to inspect subpoenaed documents is payable per attendance, not per document. Lawyers are expected to minimise the need for multiple attendances to inspect documents. This is because the inspection of documents is considered to be preparation for trial and should primarily be covered by the 3A lump sum fees.

Child support matters only

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2E.4 – initiating or responding to an application in the Federal Circuit Court Federal family courts $1656
2E.5 – conciliation conference and/or interim orders Federal family courts $552
2E.6 – counsel’s fees (conference) (up to 3 hours at $209 per hour) Federal family courts Up to $627
2E.7 – child support matters only: Counsel’s fees (appearance) Federal family courts $1489
Distance allowance (all matters) N/A $184

Entitlements and conditions

  • The stage 2E grant is a broadband grant.
  • Stage 2E.1 and 2E.2 grants cover:
    • taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits
    • communications
    • preparing documents
    • attending to filing and service
    • obtaining short service
    • court attendance (including case assessment conference)
    • consent order, if appropriate.
  • A lawyer in receipt of a stage 2E.1 or 2E.3 grant will be entitled to:
    • three subsequent appearance fees (stage 2F grants) without an extension of assistance, and
    • fees for procedural appearances without an extension of assistance.
  • In matters involving recovery, location and information orders, either a stage 2B or a stage 2E (or stage 2C) grant may be available. For information on the appropriate fee pathway, see the criteria set out in Guideline 2 – recovery, location and information orders, the Recovery order flowchart and the Location/information order flowchart available in the Notes on the Commonwealth family law and child support guidelines.
  • Where an advice and negotiation grant has been claimed in relation to the matter, the stage 2E.1 and 2E.2 grant will be reduced by the amount already paid under the advice and negotiation grant. This applies only where no earlier grant has been reduced by the equivalent of the advice and negotiation grant.
  • Where the stage 2E grant follows the advice and negotiation grant, lawyers must claim the reduced fee from the ATLAS invoice, not the full fee for that subsequent grant (the invoice preparation item to be claimed is Prep – Adv and Negs Claimed).
  • With the exception of child support matters, where counsel is briefed under a stage 2E.1 and 2E.3 grant, no additional fees are available. Fees for counsel are to be paid out of this fee. Separate fees for counsel are only available at stages 2G, 3, 4 or 5.
  • With the exception of child support matters, where the lawyer appears at any of the procedural events, the relevant fee is available without an extension of assistance.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is m​ore than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2F – subsequent hearing, federal family courts

Under a stage 2F grant, fees are available (where applicable) for a subsequent appearance in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court, in Commonwealth family law matters, excluding child support.

Service/proceedings Court Lump sum fee
2F – prepare for and attend a subsequent hearing Federal family courts $920 (includes $565 appearance fee)
Distance allowance Federal family courts $184

Entitle​ments and conditions

  • The stage 2F grant is a broadband grant.
  • Where counsel is briefed under a stage 2F grant, no additional fees are available. Fees for counsel are to be paid out of this fee. Separate fees for counsel are only available at stages 3, 4 or 5.
  • A lawyer in receipt of a Stage 2E grant will be entitled to three subsequent appearance fees (stage 2F grants) without an extension of assistance.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2G – interim co​ntest hearing, federal family courts

Under a stage 2G grant, fees are available (where applicable) for an interim contest hearing in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court, in Commonwealth family law matters excluding child support.

Service/proceedings Court Lump sum fee
2G.1 – prepare for an interim contest Federal family courts $920
2G.2 – appearance in an interim contest hearing (defended daily fee) Federal family courts $1489
Take judgement Federal family courts $209

Entitlements a​nd conditions

  • The stage 2G grant is a lump sum grant.
  • An interim contested hearing is any matter where the court allocates a specific fixture to hear the matter on a contested basis, but which is not the final hearing, ie any interim matter which could not be dealt with in the Registrars Duty List at a hearing, because the matter was particularly complex.
  • Procedural hearings in the federal family courts, such as callovers, mentions and directions hearings (sometimes referred to as interim hearings), cannot be characterised as an interim contest hearing and do not attract the stage 2G fee. For these court events, fees set out in Stage 3B – procedural hearings in the federal family courts are available.
  • Where a matter is listed as a procedural hearing and the matter is dealt with as an interim contest hearing, the lawyer can apply for an uplift to a stage 2G.2 fee on the day or shortly after the hearing date. The interim orders made on the day must be provided to us in support of the request.
  • Where an advice and negotiation grant has been claimed in relation to the matter, the preparation component will be reduced by the amount already paid under the advice and negotiation grant. This applies only where no earlier grant has been reduced by the equivalent of the advice and negotiation grant.
  • Where the stage 2G grant follows the advice and negotiation grant, lawyers must claim the reduced fee from the ATLAS invoice, not the full fee for that subsequent grant (the invoice preparation item to be claimed is Prep – Adv and Negs Claimed).
  • The fee for taking judgment is available where the appearance is required on a separate day to receive the judgment.
  • Counsel’s trial fees outlined in fee table 4.3 are also payable in some circumstances (see stage 2G.2).
  • Conference fees are not payable under a stage 2G grant.
  • Circuit fees (see fee table 4.3) or distance fees can be requested where appropriate.

Stage 2H – litigation intervention FDRS

Under a stage 2H grant, fees are available (where applicable) for litigation intervention FDRS at our Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) in Commonwealth family law matters, excluding child support and child maintenance.

These fees do not apply to independent children’s lawyers (ICLs). See stage 1B fee of fee table 4.2 – independent children’s lawyer professional costs for fees available to ICLs for litigation intervention FDRS.

Service/proceedings Forum Fee
2H.1 – preparation for litigation intervention FDRS conference FDRS $184
2H.2 – representing client at litigation intervention FDRS conference FDRS $736
2H.3 – attendance at litigation intervention FDRS when the conference does not proceed FDRS $184
Preparing and filing consent orders Any court $368
Distance allowance (all matters) FDRS $184

Entitlements​ and conditions

  • The stage 2H grant is a broadband grant. In all matters except international child abduction matters, lawyers can claim for up to two conferences attended, without an extension of assistance. In international child abduction matters, lawyers can claim for up to three conferences attended without an extension of assistance.
  • The lawyer can only claim the consent order fee where they prepare the consent orders and the orders are filed with the court.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from an FDRS venue booked for an in-person conference, and the lawyer is required to travel for the conference. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.
  • Note: FDRS is not available in child support or child maintenance matters.

Stage 2I – appli​cation for contravention, enforcement or contempt proceedings, federal family courts

Under a stage 2I grant, fees are available (where applicable) for contravention, enforcement or contempt proceedings in Commonwealth family law matters and child support matters.

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2I – application for contravention, enforcement or contempt of court Federal family courts $2024
Distance allowance N/A $184

Entitlement​s and conditions

  • The stage 2I fee is a lump sum grant and covers:
    • taking instructions for initiating court proceedings and for affidavits
    • communications
    • preparing documents
    • obtaining short service
    • court attendance (including case assessment conference)

The stage 2I fee includes all necessary appearances. No subsequent appearance fees are available.

  • With the exception of child support matters, where counsel is briefed under a stage 2I grant, no additional fees are available. Fees for counsel are to be paid out of this fee. Separate fees for counsel are only available at stages 2G, 3, 4 or 5.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court, and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2​J – appeals to Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in child support matters

Under a stage 2J grant, fees are available (where applicable) for appeals to the AAT in child support matters.

First appeal: review of a decision of the Child Support Registrar

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2J.1 – preparation AAT $1500
2J.2 – pre-hearing conference AAT $533
2J.3 – appearance AAT $965

Second appeal: review of a decision of the Social Services and Child Support Division of the AAT

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2J.4 – preparation AAT $940
2J.5 – pre hearing conference AAT $533
2J.6 – appearance: conference AAT $201

Ap​pearance in defended matter

Service/proceedings Court Fee
2J.7 – defended daily fee AAT $1564
Distance allowance N/A $184

Entitlements and conditions

  • The stage 2J fee is a lump sum grant.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.

Stage 2K – stay application in child support matters, any court

Under a stage 2K grant, fees are available (where applicable) for stay applications in child support matters.

First appe​al: review of a decision of the Child Support Registrar

Service/proceedings Court Lump sum fee
2K.1 – preparation Any court $269
2K.2 – appearance N/A $796
Distance allowance N/A $184

Entitlements and conditions

  • The stage 2K fee is a lump sum grant.
  • The distance fee is available where the lawyer’s office is more than 50 km from court and the lawyer is required to travel for the court event. The fee covers either the lawyer’s travel or briefing an agent.