Are Contingent Fee Agreements Legal in Chicago Divorce Cases? What Divorcing Parties Should Know about Divorce Lawyer Fees in Chicago Divorce Cases
When a person decides that it is time to get a divorce in Chicago, the first thing that they may wonder is how exactly Chicago divorce lawyer fees work. In Chicago, there are several different types of lawyer fee agreements, but not all of them are lawful under Chicago family laws and ethics rules. One type of fee agreement that is not allowed in divorce cases under Chicago divorce laws and ethics rules is the contingency fee agreement. But what exactly is a contingency fee agreement, and why is such an agreement unlawful under Chicago laws and ethics rules?
Contingency Fee Agreements Explained
Most likely every Chicago resident has seen an attorney advertisement that states something like, “no fee, no recovery” or “we only get paid if we settle or win your case.” These two statements are reflective of a contingency fee agreement. A contingency fee agreement is an agreement between a lawyer and their client that the lawyer will provide legal services for the client for no out-of-pocket fees, and only gets paid if they are successful in obtaining money for their client, by settlement, award, or otherwise. Contingent fee agreements are widely-used in personal injury, consumer protection, employment, and class action cases. However, importantly, contingent fee agreements are not allowed in Chicago divorce cases for a few reasons.
Contingency Fee Agreements and Chicago Divorce Cases
Under the Illinois Supreme Court Rules, “a lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect…and fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment of amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce, or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof….” Contingent fee agreements are not allowed under Illinois laws in Chicago divorce cases for a number of reasons, such as the potential for a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client, the personal and deeply emotional nature of divorce cases in general, and the unpredictability of divorce cases. Accordingly, divorce lawyers in Chicago typically structure their fee agreements by charging their clients hourly or by a flat fee, depending on the case. If you are interested in learning more about how a lawyer may structure the fee agreement in your Chicago divorce case, it is best to speak with the individual lawyer or law firm up-front about their typical fee arrangement.
Help with Your Chicago Divorce
If you are thinking of getting a divorce in Chicago, or you simply want to speak with a Chicago divorce lawyer, the experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at the law firm Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC are here to help. The experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC offer a confidential consultation to learn about your Chicago divorce case and to see if they can help fight for your interests. Contact the experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to a lawyer about your rights and options today.