Rule 24(12) of the Family Law Rules provides that a court may make an order for a party to pay an amount of money to another party to cover part or all of the expenses of carrying on the case.
The Superior Court of Ontario in Stuart v. Stuart, summarized the following general principles regarding interim disbursements:
(a) The ordering of interim disbursements is discretionary and the court should exercise its discretion to further the objective of fairness;
(b) The party seeking the disbursements bears the burden of proof;
(c) The party seeking the disbursements must demonstrate that absent the advance of funds for interim disbursements, the claimant cannot pursue their legal rights;
(d) The claimant must show that the expenses are necessary and reasonable given the needs of the case and the funds available;
(e) The claimant must demonstrate that he or she is incapable of funding the requested amount;
(f) The claim advanced must be meritorious as far as can be determined on a balance of probabilities at the time of the request for disbursements;
(g) The exercise of discretion should be limited to exceptional cases;
(h) Interim costs in matrimonial cases may be granted to level the playing field;
(i) Monies might be advanced against an equalization payment, but the order for interim disbursements should not be limited to cases where it would be taken out of an equalization payment;
(j) The court will consider the primary objectives of the Family Law Rules in making a determination on interim disbursements; and
(k) An order under Rule 24(12) should not prevent a party from obtaining costs awards.
(l) Procedural fairness also means that both parties should be equally wary about the potential of a costs order against them.
(m) An order under Rule 24(12) should not immunize a party from cost awards. The order is to allow the case to proceed fairly and should not be such that a party feels a licence to litigate.
The Supreme Court of Canada in British Columbia (Minister of Forests) v. Okanogan Indian Band,  held that the following three requirements must be present for a court to award interim disbursements:
(a) The party seeking the order must be impecunious to the extent that, without such an order, that party would be deprived of the opportunity to proceed with the case;
(b) The claimant must establish a prima facie case of sufficient merit to warrant pursuit; and
(c) There must be special circumstances sufficient to satisfy the court that the case is within the narrow class of cases where this extraordinary exercise of its powers is appropriate.