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When Can I have my Attorneys Fees paid by the other party?

Categorized as Illinois Family Law

Usually, if you have another party that has violated a Court Order, the other party can seek what are known as 508b fees from them. The decision to grant those fees are always within the sound discretion of the court (with the exception of a contempt finding).
However, what if there was no order? What if the other party needlessly increases the cost of your case? Can you ask the court to have the other party pay some or all of your attorneys fees?
In re Marriage of Haken, 394 Ill.App.3d 155 (2009), says yes…..
In Haken, the trial court, relying on In re Marriage of Mouschovias, 359 Ill.App.3d 348, 294 Ill.Dec. 897, 831 N.E.2d 1222 (2005), ordered Petitioner to pay 40% of Respondent’s total attorney fees of $79,090.50 for needlessly increasing the cost of litigation, pursuant to 750 ILCS 503(d), 508(a), and 508(b), after he, over Respondent’s objection, hired two doctors to perform custody evaluations for their case. In re Marriage of Haken, 394 Ill.App.3d 155, 157 (2009)
The appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision, finding that the hiring of the experts and their conduct was “highly unusual,” “highly adversarial,” and ultimately unnecessary in light of the fact that the Petitioner did not even use their testimony to advance his case. Id. at 163.
Similarly, in Mouschovias, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision to award the petitioner $40,000 in attorney’s fees for the respondent’s unreasonable continuance of their disputes after the trial court was forced to conduct 15 hearings on temporary custody and visitation issues; 18 hearings on permanent custody and visitation; and 20 hearings on remaining ancillary issues. In re Marriage of Mouschovias, 359 Ill.App.3d 348, 352, 353, 358 (Ill. App. 4th Dist. 2005)

The appellate court countered Respondent’s argument that the trial court did not have the power to order him to pay the $40,000 fee in its entirety, citing 750 ILCS 5/508(b), “[i]f at any time a court finds that a hearing under this [s]ection was precipitated or conducted for any improper purpose, the court shall allocate fees and costs of all parties for the hearing to the party or counsel found to have acted improperly. 750 ILCS 5/508(b) (West 2002).

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