Our Fees


Our hourly rates

What are our rates?

All work in your file is done based on the rate of the person performing that work. Our fees for legal service are billed hourly and charged in six minute increments. Our hourly rates are as follows:

Hourly rate
John Guest: $235/hr + HST
Admin staff: $50/hr + HST

Fee for an initial consultation

Initial consultations with John Guest are 1 hour in length and cost $265.55, including taxes.

Legal Aid Certificates

We accept Legal Aid Certificates but we are only able to take on a limited number of legally aided clients.

How much will it cost?

About legal fees in family law

Family law is fundamentally about people and this separates it from other legal services. If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, your real estate lawyer likely gave you a flat fee since he or she was able to predict the amount of work required since real estate transactions typically all have the same steps.

Since people are unpredictable and do not always behave how we anticipate, we cannot easily predict how long it will take for your file to resolve or how much work will be involved. We do what we can to minimize cost in your case, but the amount of work involved in your file is controlled by factors largely out of our ability to control. This means we cannot offer you a flat rate and we charge our clients based on the time we actually spend working on their file.

Factors which tend to increase your legal fees:


You and your ex-partner cannot effectively communicate


You or your ex-partner are not looking to solve problems and are seeking vengeance or retribution


You or your ex-partner have mental health issues or substance abuse issues and have no desire to seek treatment


You or your ex-partner delay or refuse to provide the necessary financial information


You or your ex-partner run a business or are not T4 employees

Factors which tend to decrease your legal fees:


You can cooperate with your ex-partner and can agree about some of the issues


You have realistic expectations about the legal system's ability to solve all of your family problems


You are honest with your lawyer and tell him or her all of the facts, even if you think some facts do not make you look good


You come prepared at meetings and produce required financial information in a timely way


You communicate effectively by email with your lawyer and collect your thoughts in a single email, rather than sending numerous small emails in short periods of time

Frequently Asked Questions about a retainer

What is a retainer?

Before we start work on your file, we will ask you for a retainer. A retainer is a sum of money paid to us before we start work on your file. We keep this deposit in a trust account and when we provide you with an invoice, we will pay the invoice using the balance you deposited.

How much will I need to deposit?

John Guest’s retainer deposits for out of court processes range from $800 to $2,500, whereas retainers for cases in court start at $2,500. 

What happens if my retainer balance is low or runs out?

If your retainer is depleted or is low, we will ask you to make another retainer deposit. If there are insufficient funds in your retainer to cover the fees or disbursements for the next stage of your file, no work will be performed on your matter until another retainer deposit is received.

At the end of your case, we will refund any money left over in your retainer, after deducting any unpaid or final bills, any HST and any unpaid expenses that we paid on your behalf.

Is my retainer deposit an estimate of how much my case will cost?

No. A retainer reflects the minimum amount of work for each stage on your file. 

What happens if I give you a deposit but the stage in my case was more time consuming than expected?

Either we will ask you for another deposit or ask you to pay the amount remaining on your invoice.