The Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center's October Lunch-N-Learn program focused on fee shifting in marital dissolution cases in Illinois. Alumna Michele Jochner, a partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck and an active member of the center’s advisory board, examined the history of fee shifting in the divorce context. She discussed the doctrine’s common law origin in 1917 and explained how the doctrine evolved to its current understanding today.
Additionally, Jochner highlighted a split among the Illinois Appellate Courts on this issue. Currently, the appellate courts disagree on which test the lower courts must apply to determine whether fee shifting in a particular case is appropriate: inability to pay or comparison of the parties’ financial standing. In January, Jochner will argue before the Illinois Supreme Court that a party must show an inability to pay in order for fee shifting to apply and that the parties’ financial standings is contrary to Illinois Supreme Court precedent and Illinois’ public policy.
Jochner’s presentation helped students learn that fee shifting is a common practice in family law. The students look forward to learning about the forthcoming Illinois Supreme Court decision on this issue, as it may shape their future work as family law practitioners.