Enforcement of Support and Property Division

I am an experienced enforcement attorney and I represent clients throughout Cook and DuPage Counties in the enforcement of child support obligations, maintenance (alimony) payments and property settlement (money from sale of a house or retirement account division). For most cases, I use the standard method of billing hourly, and attempt to recover fees from the other party if his/her failure to pay can be show to have been willful and without compelling justification.

In certain cases, where a party does not have enough money for a retainer, I can offer contingent billing. This means that you have an attorney representing you and you only pay attorney fees if you collect. This is a typical scheme used by collection attorneys. Collection methods like this are not allowed in pre-decree cases, but are approved for post-decree collection of support and settlement arrearages.

For example only, say you were owed $10,000 in child support or maintenance or property settlement. The attorney fees are a 30%. The lawyer sues for the $10,000, but recovers only $1,000. You would pay the attorney 30% of the $1,000, so $300 and you would retain $700. If you recovered nothing, you would owe no attorney fees. In most instances, you would have to pay costs, but those are usually minimal. Contact me to find out more.

Civil Contempt & The Other Party Paying Your Attorney Fees

Usually, when enforcing an obligation in a court order or judgment, you will file to hold the other party in contempt of court. You will have to establish that there was a clear obligation. For example: the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage required that within 30 days the wife pay the husband $10,000 for his share of her IRA; or the husband will pay $1,000 per month in child support, and/or $500 per week in maintenance/alimony. Secondly, you will have to demonstrate that the other party failed to comply. In the above examples, the wife failed to pay after 30 days passed; that the husband has not paid child support or maintenance for the last month or year.

Next, the burden shifts to the other party. She or he must demonstrate that she/he has a compelling justification or very good reason for why she/he has not complied. For example, the wife did not pay that $10,000 because she lost her job, at no fault of hers, and used the $20,000 to pay for a child’s needed surgery; the husband hasn’t paid child support or maintenance because he lost his job as a result of his employer  downsizing and has no savings.

The bad things that have happened have to be more than just lack of trying. There simply has to be no way for the person to comply. The reason for that is that if she or he is held in contempt, she/he can be sentenced to jail until she/he complies. If it is impossible to comply, she/he would never get out of jail, and civil contempt is not intended as punishment, but as a way to get someone to comply.

If you win, the court must order the other party to pay your attorney fees (of course, those fees must be collected too). If the other party succeeds, she/he is not held in contempt, but still owes you. She/he will not be sent to jail or forced to pay your attorney fees, but will likely have to report to the court on her/his job search, etc., until you can be paid back.

A Strong, Reliable and Convenient Ally In Your Corner

I have offices in DuPage County and downtown Chicago. I make myself available, and respond to calls and emails same day whenever possible, but nearly always within one business day. I do not accept cases I do not intend on handling attentively and well. My aim is to do the worrying for you so you can go on with your life. Please contact me to learn more. It would also be helpful if you complete and submit the Family Law Questionnaire.