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Forcing Your Spouse to Help Pay for Divorce Legal Fees

Posted on in Divorce

St. Charles, IL spousal maintenance attorney

Someone who has a greater income than his or her spouse can have an advantage during a divorce. If each spouse is left with only their individual resources, the wealthier spouse would be able to hire a more expensive lawyer, pay for other advisers, and better afford a prolonged legal battle. Illinois tries to level the playing field during a divorce by allowing someone to request interim attorney fees and costs from their spouse if they cannot afford these expenses. This divorce tool is a financial boon or burden, depending on which side of the court order you are on.

Receiving Interim Fees

As the name suggests, you will file for interim attorney fees and costs while the case is still ongoing. This request is strictly meant to pay for your legal fees related to your divorce. If you need help paying for your living expenses, you need to file for temporary spousal maintenance. When deciding whether to grant interim attorney fees, the court will consider:

  • Each party’s income and available assets

  • Each party’s earning capacity and limitations

  • A reasonable cost for legal fees

  • The complexities of the case, which may require extensive legal resources

If the court finds in favor of the petitioner, it will order the other spouse to pay the designated fee, which in most cases cannot be less than what the spouse is paying for his or her own legal fees. You can request interim attorney fees more than once if you are in need of additional support because of a prolonged case.

Contesting Interim Fees

You have the right to dispute your spouse’s request for interim attorney fees and costs by claiming that:

  • Your spouse has enough resources to pay his or her own legal fees

  • You lack the financial resources to pay the fees

  • Your spouse is asking for an unreasonable amount of money

If the court finds in favor of your spouse despite your arguments, you may risk legal penalties if you do not comply with the order. In the recent Illinois case of In re Marriage of Paris, a court found a man to be in civil contempt of court for disobeying an order to pay $550,000 in interim legal fees.

Long-Term Impact

An order to pay interim attorney fees and costs will likely affect the division of marital property in your divorce. The court may view the interim fees as borrowing against the marital estate and subtract a portion of those fees from what you receive in the division of property. If you paid too much for interim fees, the court may reimburse you with marital assets.

Contact a St. Charles, IL Divorce Attorney

People often have concerns about how much they will need to pay to get a divorce. They may also be worried about finances as they navigate life as a single parent. A knowledgeable Kane County spousal support lawyer at Goostree Law Group can discuss ways you can save on your divorce or receive financial support. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 630-584-4800.




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