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attorneys fees in divorceWhile it is vital to hire an attorney to help guide you through a dissolution of marriage, the idea of paying that attorney’s fees can be daunting. At the beginning of a divorce, it is very common for one spouse to not have a significant paying job outside of the home. Even in marriages where this is not the case, it may be that one spouse primarily controlled the household finances. For someone who was never the primary wage earner or never had much to do with the marital finances, the thought of paying his or her own attorney’s fees may be especially scary. Fortunately, there are laws in Illinois that allow trial courts to order one party to contribute to the other’s attorney’s fees under certain circumstances.

The Law

As a general rule, each party to the dissolution is responsible for paying his or her own attorneys fees. However, trial courts are allowed to order one party to pay, or at least contribute to, the other’s attorney’s fees at the end of the divorce in certain situations. In determining whether or not they should award the payment of attorney’s fees by the non-client spouse, courts are told that they should consider the following:


LucyOften times in divorce or legal separations in Illinois, family circumstances call for reason that one spouse should receive support payments from the other after the couple goes their separate ways. Spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, is a continual transfer of money from one former spouse to the other, typically on a monthly basis, as required by the divorce decree. Spousal maintenance is not automatic and is different than and separated from child support payments. In divorce negotiation, parties may decide upon a settlement that includes a spousal maintenance provision, which then must be approved by the court. That settlement then becomes a part of the divorce decree. If the alimony arrangement is not severely unreasonable considering financial realities, it will generally be approved by the Illinois courts. If the court decides that the agreement is unreasonable, it has the power to ask the parties to renegotiate or give the judge the power to create an alimony arrangement. If the spouses are still unable or were never able to reach an agreement on the spousal support, the judge will determine what is appropriate under the circumstances and create the payment amounts, duration and schedule. Maintenance can be set for only a set time, indefinite, or set for later review. The parties get a chance to submit evidence that is relevant to alimony to the court. Factors relevant in deciding alimony include:

  • Property and income available to each party
  • Each party’s needs
  • Current and future earning capacities
  • For the spouse seeking maintenance: effect on earning capacity of time spent in marriage performing “domestic duties” or giving up career and educational opportunities for sake of the marriage
  • For spouse seeking maintenance: length of time to get training, education and job to support him or herself or if that spouse has responsibility of children whose needs prevent spouse from working
  • Marital standard of living
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Each spouse’s age and “physical and emotional condition”
  • Tax concerns
  • Contributions of the spouse asking for alimony to the career of the other spouse
  • Valid agreements between spouses
  • Other factors that judge considers valid

Illinois maintenance laws state that courts may not consider “marital misconduct” in the consideration of alimony. There are many fine lines and small details that come along with divorce, so if you are considering or are going through a divorce, contact a family law lawyer today. Located in Warrenville and Wheaton, Illinois, the Davi Law Group can help you through all the details of your divorce.

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