Section 508 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows a party of a Chicago divorce without financial resources an “advance” of money to pay his or her divorce attorneys’ fees as the case proceeds, to allow that person to effectively participate in the divorce case. The purpose of the statute is to “Level the Playing Field”. It is within a court’s discretion to determine how much is advanced. In doing so, the court takes into consideration various relevant factors including how much the other spouse’s attorney has been paid, the complexity of the case, and which divorce litigant controls the financial information.
Attorneys fees are primarily the responsibility of the party incurring them. Nevertheless, at the end of the divorce case, either party has the right to ask the court to allocate the attorneys fees between them. The court does this at the same time it determines the division of property and debt, and any award of support. The party seeking the fees must show an inability to pay the fees and that the other spouse has the ability or, in some cases, a greater ability to pay them.
As a Chicago divorce lawyer I am intimately aware of the fact that Illinois is in the minority of states which allow a divorce court to obligate a parent to pay a child’s expenses attributable to a college education or professional or other training after graduation from high school. (Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act)
The divorce statute provides that educational expenses may include, but are not limited to, tuition, room and board, transportation, books, fees, registration and application costs, medical expenses including medical insurance, dental expenses, and living expenses during the school year and periods of recess.
Since the majority of Chicago divorce cases are settled between the parties without the necessity of a trial, the rights and obligations of each party are expressly set out in a contact called a Marital Settlement Agreement. The terms of the parties’ agreement are approved by the court when the divorce is granted.
In the case of In Re The Marriage of Peterson, the parties had entered into a settlement agreement which reserved the issue of each party’s obligation to contribute to the college or other education expenses of the parties’ children pursuant to Section 513 of the divorce statute. The final divorce decree did not specify that each party was obligated to contribute or the amount each was to contribute. The divorce agreement just provided that the issue would be determined at a later date.
The mother filed a lawsuit for college education expenses after… Continue reading