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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 112774
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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The JPA with my son's father that was signed in 2007, states

Customer Question

The JPA with my son's father that was signed in 2007, states that my son's father pays no child support but instead is responsible for half of our son's summer enrichment program costs which I am responsible for choosing and must discus with him the programs for which I am asking for his 50% monetary participation. The wording is somewhat ambiguous but he has paid 50% of these programs for years until 2014 when he said no more. He has a $50,000/year secure job and no other children or spouse. My husband and I are self employed with a net income that ranges between $29,000 and $31,000. My son's father and I take turns claiming son on our taxes every other year. I hired an attorney who said because of the JPA, my son's father would be legally responsible for the 50% summer program reimbursement and my legal fees should we take legal action. So borrowed the money for legal fees and my Attorney set a legal action for reimbursement of said fees plus reimbursement for attorney fees. IN the mean time as the case was still in its working stages, in 2016 as a senior in high school, my son started to apply to colleges. His father told me that he could not afford to help with college costs- unless or son received grants or a scholarship (there is no stipulation in our JAP concerning college costs). Our son received both a partial scholarship and grants and took out the maximum student loan but there was still housing and living expenses and some tuition left to cover which my son's father said he could not afford to help pay. My son's father offered $250/month and no reimbursement for summer fees as a first settlement offer of which I declined when my Attorney told me that she was confident that she can show the court that my son's father can pay at least $800/ month toward costs for our son. The sum needed for my son's college/living expenses would be a total of $1500/month or $750/moth from both of us. The 50% reimbursement for the summer fees for 2014 & 2015 is $4000. At this present time my attorney is saying that she does not believe after all that the Judge will give me attorney fees (we asked only for $5000 to cover the initial part of the case for the summer program reimbursement. This does not cover the added $18,000 my attorney has charged me for the later part of the case covering college costs- $13,000 which have come in these last 2 months of my case after 8 hours in court and we are still looking at another full day or more according to my Attorney in court) My Attorney is suggesting that I take the most recient settlement offered by my son's father before we have to go back to court and accumulate more attorney fees. The settlement that is being offered is that my son's dad will pay $650/month (out of the total $1500 needed) the first year of college and only $585/month (out of the $1500) the last three years of college- unless he looses his job or becomes disabled in which case he will no longer responsible for any college support for our son. My son's father has a long term knee injury and I believe it is plausible that he will try to get disability in the next couple years. With this purposed settlement, I am to be responsible for making up the $1500/month- and responsible for paying all increases in tuition, rent, and any grants or scholarship money that does not come through in the following years. This will make it impossible for me to cover the necessary amounts (plus all the money I borrowed for Attorney fees) without going into huge debt that would put my sustainability in great jeopardy. I am perplexed by the amount of Attorney fees I am being charged and the change in my attorney's legal view of our case such as with the request for legal fees and the recommendation that I take this low ball settlement. Can you give me any perspective.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Attorney's fees in these cases are always at the discretion of the judge Your attorney has to inform you of the worst possible situations because if they raise your hopes too high you could try to claim they made a guarantee of an outcome on the case and that would be prohibited by the rules of professional conduct.
I would say that for the part about him not paying the 50% as he agreed, you would be entitled to argue for reimbursement of attorney's fees and you need to at least tell your attorney you want to include those fees in any settlement.
As far as the college issue, if you are afraid he will simply go out of work claiming disability on his knee, there is not much the court can do about him doing that I am afraid. College support is simply not mandatory in IL, so anything you are given is really based on the agreement between the parties.
The problem with these cases is that the attorney you are using has seen all the facts and the evidence from you and your son's father as well, so their experience based on those facts is what guides their decisions. We cannot second guess them based on the limited facts and information that can be provided in this forum, so our information we can provide you is limited to the general reasons for attorneys making the suggestions to you about settlement.
Her fees are based on her hourly rate; time in court, time preparing motions, time researching can cause attorney's fees to skyrocket. So part of her advice to you can also be based on the economic reality of the situation that he is offering to settle close to the $800 a month, I mean he is within a few hundred dollars and the cost of attorney's fees to fight for a few hundred dollars a month would far exceed what you would gain in court.
So your attorney's finger is on the pulse of the case and you paid her for her expertise and you need to ask her to give you the specific legal reasons why you would not get attorney's fees for having to take him to court for not paying as agreed in the JPA (the fighting for college payments would not get you to force him to pay attorney's fees, as you already know I believe). She represents you and has to do what you ask within the law and her expertise, so if her legal reason for no partial attorney's fees is weak, then you tell her you want at least those fees.