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Will I have to pay my spouse’s attorney fees during my Illinois divorce?

When it’s time to end your marriage, the last thing you want to do is worry about finances. If you haven’t had a divorce before, you might not even know where to start, and you might feel overwhelmed by all the laws that surround the process.

You might also wonder if you will have to pay for a portion of your partner’s attorney fees. The truth is, every case varies, so it depends on your situation. Whether or not you have to cover any of the other party’s attorney fees depends on the posture of the case, as well as the income and assets available to each party.

While every case may vary, our McHenry, Illinois-based team of divorce attorneys can help you understand the basics, so you can start to move forward with your life.

What is the process for a divorce in Illinois?

Before you start the divorce process, you should know all the steps it entails. 

There are some variations in the divorce process as well, but overall the Illinois divorce process is as follows:

  • One spouse files the divorce petition.
  • One or both of the spouses must prove the grounds for divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” which means any attempts to resolve differences or preserve the marriage would not be in the “best interest” of the family.
  • Both parties must resolve their issues through negotiations and come to an agreement.
  • If parties do not come to agreement, there will be a trial held before a judge.
  • Before the divorce is finalized, both parties will need the help of a knowledgeable divorce attorney to help them fill out the necessary paperwork.

Common fees in an Illinois divorce

The different steps of the divorce process can all incur more attorney fees. For example, it is helpful to seek legal advice when you and your spouse undergo negotiations about dividing your assets, and that will incur attorney fees.

Some other fees related to your divorce that you may have to pay are:

  • Fees to open and file your case if you initiate the divorce
  • Fees to respond to a divorce petition if  your spouse initiates the divorce
  • Fees related to other divorce-related documents
  • Fees related to any potential court proceedings

What are some reasons I will have to pay my spouse’s attorney fees?

As you know, every divorce case varies. And while it is typical that each party pays their own attorney fees, there are some cases in which this isn’t true. 

For example, one of the biggest influences on whether or not one party has to pay the other’s attorney fees is income.

Here are some of the reasons one might have to pay their spouse’s attorney fees:

  • When one spouse makes significantly more than the other
  • When one spouse makes meritless pleadings against the other
  • When one spouse fails to cooperate with divorce proceedings, which will elongate the process and cause the other to incur more fees
  • When one party’s actions directly cause the divorce, such as if one party commits adultery

What happens when one spouse makes significantly more than the other?

One common case where one party pays for the other’s attorney fees is when one spouse makes significantly more than the other, has significantly more resources than the other as a family contribution or greater access to assets.

In these cases, the courts may “level the playing field,” so one party doesn’t have an unfair advantage over the other in the proceedings.

To do this, a “petition for interim attorney’s fees” can be filed. Interim attorney fees are granted in an amount “reasonably necessary” to allow the party with less income to participate adequately in the divorce process.

What are meritless pleadings?

If one party becomes overly litigious without any bases to their filings with the court, the other party may have grounds to ask for attorney’s fees for having to defend against meritless pleadings.

Contact Diamond Divorce Law Illinois Divorce Attorneys Today

You need a strong divorce attorney in your corner – one that will prioritize your needs and make the process as easy on you as possible. Our McHenry, Illinois team at Diamond Divorce Law has 40 years of experience with all the ins and outs of divorce law, and we’re here to help you move forward with your life. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.


DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.

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