Montgomery, AL asked in Divorce for Alabama

Q: Can attorney withhold funds from client received from a divorce settlement to pay for attorney services.

If client has repeatedly requested invoice and such was not provided until after the attorney received the clients settlement funds.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Travis T Juneau
Travis T Juneau
  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: If I am understanding the question correctly, and please correct me if I'm wrong because this is based on a fair number of assumptions, 1) you hired an attorney for a divorce 2) you agreed to compensate said attorney at an hourly rate (contingency fees on divorce cases is barred by the Alabama rules of professional conduct) 3) you requested invoices for time and expenses along the way 4) your attorney failed to provide such invoices until the divorce was finalized and settlement funds were turned over to the attorney 5) your attorney is withholding part or all of the settlement to cover legal fees and expenses.

If this is the case, then the payment terms for legal services provided should be covered in the contract you signed to hire that attorney. You do owe them for their time and expenses. I will agree that this is no the best practice and communication is key to a healthy attorney-client relationship. But, if you agreed to pay and the attorney did the work then you owe the money. If you feel you were wronged, you need to talk to your lawyer. Most disagreements of this type can be worked out if the parties are willing to talk to each other.

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