THURMAN'S "ATTORNEY FEES" TIPS
Family Code Section 272:
How Do I Recover Fees Ordered to My Prior Divorce Lawyer?
Family Code section 272 may be useful if you've fired your former attorney or if he or she
has quit your case, where an order for attorney fees issued in their name.
Particularly assuming that they've not earned all those fees, this
assures that the monies will be paid to your new attorney. In my experience,
if your former attorney has billed an amount which equals or is greater
than the amount awarded, even if the other party is paying them in monthly
installments and there is still a balance that that party still owes,
most judges will not deprive the first attorney of their fees. However,
if that attorney managed to anger the Court by over-zealous behaviors,
or by failing to attend hearings on time or otherwise doing a substandard
job, the result could be different.
Most attorneys reasonably expect you to agree that if a family court awards
fees, they be ordered payable to the attorney directly and not the party.
That is certainly my practice, and it is reasonable. However, if the fee
order reads that they are payable to you, then you and not your former
divorce lawyer are entitled to them. Notice the procedural requirements
in subsection (c). If you are the paying party, keep in mind that you
want your spouse's new attorney to get paid with the old fee order
since otherwise you may see a second application for attorney fees - therefore,
I recommend that where there is still money you owe on an old attorney
fee order that you meet and confer (or as appropriate have your attorney
do so) with the new attorney to try to figure a way whereby you can safely
pay the second lawyer - but be careful, you don't want to pay this
money to attorney number 2 only to find that attorney number 1 sues you
for the balance otherwise remaining under the fee award!
CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
Family Code section 272
(a) Where the court orders one of the parties to pay attorney' s fees
and costs for the benefit of the other party, the fees and costs may,
in the discretion of the court, be made payable in whole or in part to
the attorney entitled thereto.
(b) Subject to subdivision (c), the order providing for payment of the
attorney's fees and costs may be enforced directly by the attorney
in the attorney's own name or by the party in whose behalf the order was made.
(c) If the attorney has ceased to be the attorney for the party in whose
behalf the order was made, the attorney may enforce the order only if
it appears of record that the attorney has given to the former client
or successor counsel 10 days' written notice of the application for
enforcement of the order. During the 10-day period, the client may file
in the proceeding a motion directed to the former attorney for partial
or total reallocation of fees and costs to cover the services and cost
of successor counsel. On the filing of the motion, the enforcement of
the order by the former attorney shall be stayed until the court has resolved