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Old 12-12-2006, 05:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Can an attorney withold my earnings from a divorce judgement?

After 2 1/2 years my ex-husband finally paid a partial payment on the divorce judgement. The cashiers checks are made out to me. My attorney will not release any of the funds to me until I sign over one of the checks in the amount of $94,000 to him. I get to keep the $12,000 check. Can he do this?
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medusax
After 2 1/2 years my ex-husband finally paid a partial payment on the divorce judgement. The cashiers checks are made out to me. My attorney will not release any of the funds to me until I sign over one of the checks in the amount of $94,000 to him. I get to keep the $12,000 check. Can he do this?
I would do nothing until you have a qualified person (possibly a 2nd attorney) review both your final recorded divorce decree and your original, counter-signed agreement with your attorney. I would also ask for a detailed accounting of where $94,000 worth of expenses or legal fees went during the past 2 1/2 yrs and if the attorney can't provide that, provide a detailed bill entailing the total $94,000. If you've entered into a binding agreement with your attorney, he can demand anything that agreement entailed .. but personally, I wouldn't suggest signing over anything without written documentation and a 2nd objective legal opinion. Good luck.
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Old 12-14-2006, 01:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Cool

And make sure that you demand the funds from your attorney in writing...

The written record will probably determine what happens in this case later on.
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by EXPERT
And make sure that you demand the funds from your attorney in writing...

The written record will probably determine what happens in this case later on.

I guess my thought on all of this is ...Is he actually allowed to withold my monies made out to me from my ex-husband. Basically my attorney told me that he wouldn't release any funds to me until I signed over the $94,000 check. He is not releasing any money to me at all, including spousal support checks that come to his office to be given to me.
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medusax
I guess my thought on all of this is ...Is he actually allowed to withold my monies made out to me from my ex-husband. Basically my attorney told me that he wouldn't release any funds to me until I signed over the $94,000 check. He is not releasing any money to me at all, including spousal support checks that come to his office to be given to me.
Then, I would suggest that you read YOUR Attorney/Client Retainer Agreement (read "Contract") and familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of payment of service rendered to YOU. Then, PAY your attorney.

Your attorney may, in fact, be entitled to a contractual set-off against incoming money payable to you for fees and costs. Nobody "rides for free" and that's what you're expecting to do! First, you pay. Sign the check!

Simple.

Westside Law*
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Old 12-15-2006, 04:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medusax
I guess my thought on all of this is ...Is he actually allowed to withold my monies made out to me from my ex-husband. Basically my attorney told me that he wouldn't release any funds to me until I signed over the $94,000 check. He is not releasing any money to me at all, including spousal support checks that come to his office to be given to me.
I would agree with Expert in that contact with your attorney be made in writing. While the attorney may in fact be due monies on his bill, I am very uncomfortable at the idea of withholding spousal support checks that may or may not be your only source of income.That is NOT a part of his retainer and/or fees. I would strongly urge you contact another attorney immediately with the documents I mentioned and keep your contact with his office limited to telephone calls that are also followed up with letters reiterating the same conversation in writing. Attorneys are not exempt from 'usary laws' any more than anyone else is, as far as the fees due but WestSide is also correct in that you may have inadvertently agreed to "everything but the kitchen sink" in your divorce. Good luck.

Last edited by TheJury'sStillOut; 12-15-2006 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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In Reply....

I definately do not intend nor have ever expected to "ride for free"! I offered in good faith to give my attorney $60,000 right now in good faith. Then when my ex-husband pays the rest of what he owes I will settle the bill. Not to mention that he is supposed to pay a portion of my attorneys fees. So.....no ride for free.....just a little breathing room to pay credit card bills I got stuck with which weren't mine, medical bills, and perhaps purchase a really inexpensive vehicle seeing as how my ex stole mine 2 years ago. Oh wait.....I was granted a vehicle in court but my attorney just doesn't seem hard pressed to get my ex to turn it over. I hope he is enjoying his brand new Lexus that I am paying for! Not bitter....just frustrated at the system and the nonchalant lack of urgency everyone seems to exhibit. However, not being in my shoes I suppose one can not expect others to feel the same.
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Old 12-17-2006, 01:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=medusax]

I definately do not intend nor have ever expected to "ride for free"! I offered in good faith to give my attorney $60,000 right now in good faith.

It doesn't matter. According to the attorney's billing, AND your contract (which you don't seem to understand), your attorney isn't owed $60,000; he's owed $94,000.00!! He doesn't want to be a "creditor" of yours because your bills are of no concern to him! He wants ALL of his money, not merely 2/3's of it, but ALL. How you deal with your bills, and your husband's dealings with you are YOUR concern. Why would you make those problems your attorney's problems?



Then when my ex-husband pays the rest of what he owes I will settle the bill.

That's not how it works. YOU wait for your money from your husband. Your attorney doesn't want to wait for your husband. Ever heard of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"? The attorney has a "bird."



Not to mention that he is supposed to pay a portion of my attorneys fees.

How is that your attorney's problem? Remember, YOU have a contract with your attorney to PAY - - and that has nothing to do with your husband. I mean, it would be great if your husband would pay, but your attorney doesn't have a contract with your husband; he has one with YOU!


So.....no ride for free.....just a little breathing room to pay credit card bills I got stuck with which weren't mine, medical bills, and perhaps purchase a really inexpensive vehicle seeing as how my ex stole mine 2 years ago. Oh wait.....I was granted a vehicle in court but my attorney just doesn't seem hard pressed to get my ex to turn it over. I hope he is enjoying his brand new Lexus that I am paying for! Not bitter....just frustrated at the system and the nonchalant lack of urgency everyone seems to exhibit. However, not being in my shoes I suppose one can not expect others to feel the same.

These are irrelevant to the attorney.

So, yes, you want to make your problems your attorney's problems so that you can get a free ride, for however long it takes to get your money. Again, that's not how it works. No one wants to be your creditor; so, PAY YOUR ATTORNEY'S BILL.


Westside Law*

Last edited by Westside Law*; 12-17-2006 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 12-17-2006, 04:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So, Westie. Ya take a check??

*grin*
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm way late to this, but I wanted to point out that in my state (and probably most others), your lawyer would be in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. What state are you in?

The comments to Rule 1.15, which is similar in states that use the Model Rules (and most do), reads in pertinent part:

"Lawyers often receive funds from which the lawyer's fee will be paid. The lawyer is not required to remit the client funds that that lawyer reasonably believes represent fees owed. However, a lawyer may not hold funds to coerce a client into accepting the lawyer's contention. The disputed portion of the funds must be kept in a trust account and the lawyer should suggest means for prompt resolution of the dispute, such as arbitration. The undisputed portion of the funds shall be promptly distributed."

Therefore, if he has two checks made out to you, one for $94k and one for $12k, and your attorney claims that you owe him $94k, he should immediately deliver the $12k check to you regardless of a dispute over attorneys fees.

Last edited by jdmba; 01-22-2007 at 07:40 AM.
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