In an ideal world, Illinois law would change so that every marriage would require a pre-nuptial agreement that would dictate the terms of divorce if a marriage doesn’t work out. It would save people a lot of money and heartache. Of course, that’s not the world we live in.

As a result, a lot of divorces in Illinois are nasty and contentious. That makes sense because when a relationship is ending, there are often a lot of bad feelings. Often people treat their husband/wife poorly because their feelings are hurt. One way we commonly see this is when one person makes a lot more money than the other or has control of the money.

The most typical way this happens is when one person works and the other stays at home to raise the kids. This was the scenario of a woman who called me recently and didn’t think she could afford a lawyer. She stayed at home while her husband worked a good union job making about $150,000.00 a year. He had emptied out their bank account and his 401k. She felt helpless.

The good news is that Illinois divorce law is written in a way that anticipates this type of power imbalance scenario. When one spouse makes significantly more than the other, you can file a motion that will ask the Judge to order them to pay your lawyer fees. It is usually filed right away and is commonly granted.

So you likely don’t have to worry about paying for a lawyer. It’s more likely that you’ll have to find a way to come up with an initial retainer fee and that’s it. After that, your spouse would be responsible for your attorney’s bill.

And if your spouse does something shady like emptying out a bank account or 401k, you can likely get that money back through a court order too. Judges do not look kindly on that type of behavior and they don’t usually reward people who are acting like bullies.

This is not to say that the divorce will be easy or stressful. It’s often not when you are dealing with someone who is mentally abusive. But we have found that when someone realizes they are going to have to pay for two lawyers, they realize they need to stop playing games or otherwise they will go broke.

The bottom line is that Illinois divorce law is mostly common sense and is designed to protect people who are not making the same money their soon to be ex is. So take a deep breath and know that options likely exist for you. And if you want a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call us any time at 312-346-5320.