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Will I Have to Pay For My Unemployed Spouse’s Attorney in our Arlington Heights Divorce? 

 Posted on December 27, 2021 in Divorce

arlington heights divorce lawyerEven as Illinois family law has been updated to reflect the changing and modernizing circumstances many families live in, the law still protects spouses who have stayed out of the workforce to raise children or keep a home. Many couples still choose this path together and, following a divorce, the spouse who gave up employment opportunities to raise children may receive spousal maintenance (alimony) while he or she becomes financially independent. 

Although most people do not willingly take advantage of their spouse, some individuals will deliberately remain employed or underemployed as their spouse financially supports them. This can cause financial problems during a marriage, and it can also pose serious difficulties during divorce. If you are considering divorcing your unemployed spouse, here are some important things you should know. 

Can a Person Be Ordered to Pay Their Spouse’s Attorney’s Fees? 

After the divorce is over, ongoing spousal support payments, if any, will already have been determined. But what about during the divorce? Illinois law allows either spouse to ask a judge to order the other spouse to pay all or part of their attorney fees while the divorce case is ongoing. The lesser-earning spouse may also receive interim or temporary spousal maintenance. Generally, interim maintenance allows economically disadvantaged spouses to exit unhappy or abusive marriages while still having competent legal representation. 

However, just because one spouse is unemployed or underemployed does not mean the court will automatically order the other spouse to pay their attorneys’ fees. When making a decision, judges can consider many factors, including the following: 

  • The income and available assets of each spouse

  • How much each spouse is likely to earn in the future

  • How much the requesting spouse could earn right now if they chose to be fully employed

  • The reasons for the requesting spouse’s unemployment 

  • Whether either spouse has any kind of disability or other impairment that could impact either spouse’s future earning potential

  • Whether the requesting spouse gave up present earning potential because of domestic duties, including housekeeping and childrearing

  • How long it would take the requesting spouse to achieve education, training, or employment so that they could support themselves 

  • The length of the marriage

  • The standard of living during the marriage

  • Whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement exists 

Imputing Income

Although the above factors may make it seem like the employed spouse may always be required to pay the unemployed spouse’s attorney’s fees, a good attorney can try to avoid or reduce interim maintenance by “imputing income” to a voluntarily underemployed or unemployed spouse. This can sometimes allow spousal maintenance to be calculated according to the unemployed spouse’s potential or imputed income. For example, if a husband quits his job during divorce and tries to claim that the wife should be paying for his attorneys, a court can look at what the husband earned while he was working and impute that same income to him now, thereby refusing the husband’s request for financial assistance. 

Call an Arlington Heights Spousal Support Lawyer

The prospect of divorcing an unemployed spouse can be daunting, especially when you believe your spouse is intentionally remaining unemployed to try to take financial advantage of you. At A. Traub & Associates, our experienced Arlington Heights, IL divorce attorneys have seen it all. We are ready to represent you and help you build a strong case. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation at 847-749-4182




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