Wife filed a Petition for Husband to contribute to her attorney fees and costs in divorce court. The court held a hearing. It ordered Husband to contribute $700,000 toward the attorney fees incurred by Wife.
Husband appealed. He argued that the trial court erred. The trial court had been unable to determine with precision whether all of the work performed by Wife’s firm was reasonable. Yet it ordered him to pay $700,000 of her fees.
The Appellate Court agreed that the trial court did not determine with precision whether all of the attorney’s fees incurred by wife were reasonable. But, it said the Trial Court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered husband to contribute $700,000 toward her fees.
The Appellate Court said that the Trial Court had considered all relevant criteria. And, it had reduced the amount from that requested to one that it considered reasonable. Wife had originally wanted contribution of $988,358.
There had been an “exhaustive hearing on the fee issue”. The trial court had a “detailed understanding of what work was done and why.” It had applied the knowledge it gained to order a reduced award.
The Appellate Court said that to critically examine the reasonableness of a petitioner’s attorney fees would be inconsistent with the goals of section 503(j). That goal is to preserve the attorney-client privilege and to avoid a conflict of interest.
In re Marriage of Nesbitt, Illinois Supreme Court, No. 1-05-3972, 1-06-0108 1-06-0531, 1-06-1665, Cons.