Articles Posted in Attorney Fees

Scenario:  A motion has been filed in your case to obtain some general relief in family court, such as maintenance, child support, or parenting time. The judge in your case has heard all the facts and considered the evidence. A hearing or trial has taken place, and the judge has entered an order on the issue. You and the opposing party must now abide by this order or you will be subjected to the consequences for violating the same.

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Fortunately, you are an upstanding individual who obeys court orders to the letter. Unfortunately, the opposing party is not, and he or she is now disregarding the order. What do you do? Do you have to go back to court to enforce the order? Why should you have to pay an attorney to deal with the opposing party’s malfeasance? Thankfully, within the world of enforcing orders and being in contempt of a court, the law exists to help you by offering you remedies for your troubles.

 

Section 508(b) of Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states as follows:

“In every proceeding for the enforcement of an order or judgment when the court finds that the failure to comply with the order or judgment was without compelling cause or justification, the court shall order the party against whom the proceeding is brought to pay promptly the costs and reasonable attorney’s fees of the prevailing party.”

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In Illinois, during a divorce, either party can ask the court to order the other party to pay some or all of his or her attorney fees while the case is pending.  Section 501(c-1) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides in pre-judgment (pre-decree) divorce cases, the court can assess attorney fees in favor of the petitioning party and against the other party.  The purpose of these interim attorney fee awards is to “level the playing field” and allow an economically disadvantaged spouse to participate adequately in the litigation.  See, Marriage of Rosenbaum-Golden.  This may be necessary where one spouse uses his or her greater control of assets or income as a litigation tool, making it difficult for the disadvantaged spouse.

Pockets Inside Out

If the court decides that one party cannot pay his or her attorney fees but the other party can, it can order that the party able to contribute pay some attorney fees to the other party.  However, if the court determines that both parties do not have sufficient financial ability or access to funds with which to pay, the court will allocate available funds for each party’s attorneys, including any retainers or interim payments previously paid.

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In this current economy, many people find themselves underwater in their mortgage payments, credit card debts, car loans, student loans, and the like.  In certain situations, filing for bankruptcy may seem like a “get out of jail free” card to rid yourself of all the suffocating debt that you’ve racked up over the years.  But before you call a bankruptcy attorney, take a step back and consider: are all debts dischargeable? What does the law have to say about support owed to a former spouse or children?

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While the United States Bankruptcy Code is expansive and provides for discharge of many debts under several sections, there are certain debts which the legislature has specifically noted are NOT dischargeable, even in bankruptcy.

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