Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to seek interim and prospective attorney’s fees and costs from your spouse. The prevailing law on the matter is codified in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act at 750 ILCS 5/501(c-1). The term “interim attorney’s fees and costs” is defined as attorney’s fees and costs assessed from time to time while a case is pending. Except for good cause shown, a proceeding for interim attorney’s fees and costs in a pre-judgment dissolution proceeding shall be nonevidentiary in nature. This means that prior to awarding attorney’s fees to the requesting party, the courts will generally not hear sworn evidence. Instead, the courts may look at the parties respective financial disclosures, fees already paid to the attorneys in the case, and hear argument from the parties’ attorneys.
In assessing an interim award, the court shall consider all relevant factors that appear reasonable and necessary, including, to the extent applicable:
- The income and property of each party, including alleged marital property within the sole control of one party and alleged non-marital property within access to a party;
- The needs of each party;
- The realistic earning capacity of each party;
- Any impairment to present earning capacity of either party, including age and physical and emotional health;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The degree of complexity of the issues, including custody, valuation or division (or both) of closely held businesses, and tax planning, as well as reasonable needs for expert investigations or expert witnesses, or both;
- Each party’s access to relevant information;
- The amount of the payment or payments mad or reasonably expected to be made to the attorney for the other party; and
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
In summary, after reviewing the above factors, the court may decide to award you interim or prospective attorney’s fees. A petition for these fees is generally presented after the case has been underway for a few months and your initial retainer has been depleted. On a final note, when seeking attorney’s fees from your spouse, it is always helpful to know bank accounts in their position with substantial resources.