The trial court created a $750,000 litigation fund as a result of the wife’s petition for interim and expert fees and costs.  The husband refused to deposit the required $550,000.

Husband argues that the evidence does not support a finding that he had the ability to pay the $550,000 interim fee order. According to husband, “the uncontroverted evidence” showed that (1) He could not put together the ordered fee amount without wife’s cooperation.  Because he claimed that he lacked sufficient liquid assets.  (2) He could not default on his “outside personal liabilities that were in the tens of millions of dollars”. (3) His liquid business assets were collateralized or otherwise pledged.  They were necessary for compliance with bank covenants.  (4) He would default under his contracts if he withdrew business funds. (5) His existing lines of credit were maxed and unable to be utilized.

Wife’s evidence included husband’s sworn financial affidavits, financial statements, and income tax returns.  They showed that he had $7.7 million in marketable securities in 2016.  And reported a net income in excess of $1 million in 2016.

Husband claimed that his assets were pledged to banks that would object to his use of those assets.  But, he failed to support that claim beyond presenting his expert’s conjectures concerning possible outcomes if the stock market suffered a precipitous decline.

In contrast, wife’s expert pointed directly to evidence showing husband’s $826,000 in borrowing power. $300,000 increase in his equity holdings.  And net worth in excess of $20 million.

He was subsequently held in indirect civil contempt.  He took the issue up on appeal. The interim award included fees to the husband’s own counsel in the amount of $200,000, which the husband appealed.

The plain language of the relevant portions of the IMDMA did not permit an award of attorneys’ fees to a party who had not petitioned for such fees. The court rejected the husband’s argument that the order should be vacated.  He argued that the wife’s counsel of record in the dissolution proceeding was not the same counsel as when the order was entered.

The husband failed to cite any authority to support his claim. So, it was forfeited. The court stated that the wife’s counsel’s withdrawal as counsel did not affect the validity of the court’s allocation of fees to that firm.  The court upheld the trial court finding holding husband in indirect civil contempt for willfully and contumaciously disobeying the interim fee order.

In re Marriage of Paris, 2020 IL App (1st) 181116

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