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Interim Attorney’s Fees in a Chicago Divorce

Interim Attorney’s Fees in a Chicago Divorce

By: M. Scott Gordon

When spouses are considering divorce, some of the most pressing concerns often involve matters of property division, spousal support and child custody. The question of attorney’s fees is also important to consider. When one spouse has the financial earning power to pay for an experienced and well-regarded family law attorney in the Chicago area and the other spouse cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, the court may order the other spouse to pay interim attorney’s fees to other attorney under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). We will give you more information about how interim attorney’s fees are considered by Illinois courts in a Chicago divorce and the surrounding suburbs.

What Are Interim Attorney’s Fees?

 The IMDMA defines interim attorney’s fees and costs as fees assessed while a case is pending, in favor of the petitioning party’s current attorney, for reasonable costs incurred or that will be incurred in the future.

In other words, interim attorney’s fees in a divorce cover the costs of a lawyer, while a party is involved in a divorce case. The language of the statute clarifies that a party can seek interim attorney’s fees to cover costs that he/she will incur in the future, as well as costs he/she already has paid to a lawyer.

How to Seek Interim Attorney’s Fees

In order to get interim attorney’s fees, the party seeking them must file a petition for interim attorney’s fees and costs. Even if there is a clear disparity in earnings between the parties, the court will not consider the issue of interim attorney’s fees unless one of the parties specifically seeks them by filing a petition. That petition must provide information about the relevant factors for awarding interim attorney’s fees provided by the IMDMA. When one party files the petition, the other party (from whom interim attorney’s fees are being sought) must file a responsive pleading and disclose what they have been paid.

When the court decides whether to award interim attorney’s fees and costs, it considers a wide variety of factors cited by the IMDMA, which include the following, among a number of others:

  • Income and property of each party;
  • Needs of each party;
  • Realistic earning capacity of each party;
  • How much each attorney has been paid (and billed) so far;
  • The access of both parties to relevant information; and
  • Any other factor the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

In most situations, interim attorney’s fees are sought in cases where the spouse petitioning for interim attorney’s fees will also be seeking spousal support.

Seek Advice from a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Divorce law is complicated in Illinois. It is extremely important to work with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer to learn how interim attorney’s fees might become an issue in your case. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates to learn more about how we can assist with your Chicago area divorce.