Section 508 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows a party without financial resources, to receive an “advance” of money to pay 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 that 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.