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Finances And Divorce: Who Pays Attorneys Fees?


When most couples think of divorce, the emotional strain comes to mind first. It can be a trying time in the lives of most as you undergo a cycle of constant change and rearranging your life for a better future. Unfortunately, the financial repercussions of a divorce are something that are often realized only during or after proceedings are complete.

If contested and litigated, a divorce can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The longer it takes both you and your spouse to work out a settlement or to go to trial, the more your case will cost.

This leaves some in a precarious position after the judgment is handed down. Luckily, you don’t have to expect financial instability once your case is closed. Instead, you can take steps to ensure that once everything is said and done, you aren’t left with an empty bank account and outstanding attorney’s fees.

  1. Update All Accounts

While this won’t make the amount of money in your bank account rise, it’s still important for financial stability.

Once divorced, you need to update all documents if you are a woman and chose to use your maiden name once again. You must also notify banks, utilities, insurance companies, credit card companies, and other entities of any name or address changes to ensure all entities are notified and all assets are in order. Some may even need to update retirement accounts as well.

  1. Avoid Divorce Credit Card Debt

The months or years following a separation can be financially unstable. If you’re a spouse who didn’t work during the marriage and are living off maintenance and child support while searching for a job, it can be tempting to rely on credit cards to pay bills.

However, building your credit is incredibly important. To do so, you should use your credit cards regularly, pay off the balance each month, and take any other steps to protect your financial future. Doing so will be important should you need to apply for a mortgage or other credit loan later in life.

  1. Take Regular Inventories of Expenses and Assets

While it may seem tedious and overwhelming to assess your financial health regularly, it’s important to do so. This should mean you examine your salary, bank accounts, real estate and personal property, and life insurance cash values to determine how much you have.

Of course, you must also consider your expenses and where you can make cuts to save additional money. Doing so is essential when you need to get back on your feet after your separation.

Common Questions:
Who Pays for Attorney’s Fees in Divorce?

Even the simplest of cases can be expensive for many couples. Even if you and your soon-to-be former spouse agree on how to settle all matters – maintenance, child support, and property division included – you’re going to spend thousands on your case. And, if you don’t agree on matters and both want to retain your own attorneys, costs can easily double.

There are many individuals that come into our office without the ability to pay for a retainer, making it difficult to secure representation. Often, these are individuals who may not earn a substantial income each year or stay-at-home parents who have not worked to raise a family.

It’s important to know that you have options to ensure you can afford a Dupage divorce lawyer that will represent your interests in your divorce proceedings. Below, we’ll discuss one of the most common solutions the Court offers for those who simply can’t afford an attorney so you know your options.

What’s a Petition for Interim Attorney’s Fees?

A Petition for Interim Attorney’s Fees is a document prepared and filed by your attorney in Dupage to secure money for services. In the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, the Petition secures “reasonable fees and costs either incurred or to be incurred.”

The Petition is accompanied by documentation that demonstrates:

  • Each party’s income and property;
  • The needs of each party;
  • The realistic earning capacity of each party;
  • Present impairments to each party’s earning capacity, such as age and health;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The complexity of the issues being resolved in Court; and
  • Other factors found to be relevant or just in consideration of a Petition for Fees.

For example, if you’re a woman who stayed at home to raise the family and haven’t had a job for over 15 years and have lived in a home where your spouse earned an annual income of $150,000, you’re likely to be awarded interim fees. Of course, this is at the discretion of the judge assigned to your case, but it’s important to pursue all relevant courses of action so you can be represented by an attorney that will defend your interests.

Can’t We Just Use the Same Attorney?

In another example, let’s assume your spouse files against you. However, the case is uncontested (meaning you agree on how to resolve most issues) and you don’t feel the need for representation. In this case, only your spouse will be responsible for attorney’s fees because he or she filed. And, if you feel comfortable proceeding pro se, you can and should do so to save money.

Keep in mind that if your spouse does hire an attorney, it is not his or her prerogative to defend your interests. As such, you may still want to consider retaining counsel of your own through a Petition for Fees as described above.

Set Yourself Up for a Bright Financial Future With Affordable Divorce Lawyers

At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we understand the financial burden this process can place on many individuals. Through our services, you can ensure a fair settlement that equitably distributes all property and sets you up for a successful financial future.

To discuss finances relating to your divorce with Larry, or any other issue, contact us at 630-470-9990 or request your free 30-minute consultation online. We look forward to speaking with you and easing your concerns, both financial and otherwise.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.