Do I owe my divorce attorney money before the case is final? 28 Answers as of June 02, 2013

I hired a divorce lawyer. I paid her up to the court date. We went to court over 3 months ago and heard of no final results. The courts are telling me to contact my lawyer. My lawyer is stating that is out of her hands and she wants the rest of her fees. Can I state that until final papers are in my hand I will not pay her? She is emailing me almost every week for payment, but I still have no results.

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Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
I do not know it would depend on the contract that you signed for her services.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 3/26/2012
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
Look at your retainer agreement for the terms of your agreement with your attorney. Look at the bills from your attorney. If you owe money to your attorney, your attorney may be unwilling to do further work without being brought up to date on payments. If your relationship with your attorney has broken down, you can substitute your attorney out and substitute yourself or another attorney in to represent you in the case. The information you provided is inadequate to enable me to address your statement that the courts are telling you to contact your lawyer. I would need to know what you asked of the Court to elicit that response. I could only guess that the Court may have made orders which have not yet been reduced to a paper Judgment. Take a look at the Court file. You might consult with another Family Law Attorney for a 2nd opinion.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/24/2012
Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg
Law Office of Jane E. Ginsburg | Jane Ginsburg
I assume you have a written agreement with your lawyer. I suggest you review that.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/23/2012
Diefer Law Group, P.C.
Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
You can tell the attorney that, but that does not mean the attorney cannot try and collect. The fees owed are for services rendered and not for an outcome. Thus, is the work has been done but the court has not processed the paperwork you still owe the money.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/22/2012
Burnett Evans Banks
Burnett Evans Banks | Paul Evans
Attorneys fees for family law matters are not contingent upon results, or finalization of anything (unless you had a flat-fee agreement from start to finish). It sounds like you owe your attorney for time and work that has already been provided, so you owe that part now. Whether the case is finalized is a separate issue that should not be related to your financial agreement.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 3/22/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    It appears as though your attorney tried the case and you are waiting for the judgment to render a decision. It is not the attorney's fault that the judge has not yet rendered a decision. In any event, a family law attorney is usually paid by the hour. You may need to review your retainer agreement but if he/she is billing by the hour and is charging you for work already performed, then you owe the money.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You owe your attorney the fees for what she has done. But, she also owes you an explanation of the status and outcome of your case. Your description of the situation does not provide a clear understanding of the problem because the claim that your lawyer says it "is out of her hands" simply makes no sense if the real issue is that she can't/won't tell you the final results. If sitting down to have a discussion with her isn't possible, you may want to consider filing a grievance with the bar association to find out whether there is a solution to the apparent impasse.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    That depends on what the agreement is between you and the lawyer. I doubt your agreement said you did not have to pay her until the divorce was final. In fact lawyers in Mississippi are not allowed to enter into a contingency fee agreement on a divorce case. It sounds like the Judge has taken the case under advisement and is taking his/her time on ruling on the case. There's not a lot your lawyer can do about that. If your lawyer pesters the Judge for a faster decision it could backfire and hurt you, so it would probably be in your best interests to be patient and pay your lawyer what you owe her.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    You owe per your contract. If it says you will pay her hourly on a monthly basis, that is what you are obligated to do. If you believe that she did not adequately represent you, you can file a grievance against her or ask for fee arbitration.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    Law Office of Joan M. Canavan | Joan Canavan
    You owe your attorney for whatever fees you have incurred to date, regardless of whether or not you have received results concerning the matter over which you went to Court 3 months ago. I would suggest that you go to the Court and ask to see your file, then you can see if a Court order issued concerning the last time you were in Court and you will know if your attorney has received anything final yet. The court will mail the results to your attorney because you are represented by one. In the event that you have a question about your bill, I would suggest that you speak directly to your attorney about the matter before you pay her.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    Steven Harrell, Attorney at Law | Waymon Steven Harrell
    Your agreement to pay your attorney has no relation to the time it takes a Superior Court judge to generate a final decree of divorce. The two transactions have no relation to one another.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/22/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    Yes for hours worked.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    The Law Firm of Hayley A Silverberg, PLLC | Hayley Silverberg
    If you owe your attorney money, he or she may be holding off on drafting any final paperwork until he or she is paid. Pay your bill. Also, if you have a fee agreement with your attorney and you fail to pay for services that were provided, your attorney could sue you to obtain a judgment against you. If you feel like you do not owe any money contact another attorney for assistance in getting your paperwork.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    You owe the fee pay and demand that the decision be completed ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Thomas P. Carnes, Attorney & Mediator | Thomas P. Carnes
    The answer to your questions depends on your engagement agreement with your lawyer. Fees are generally due when billed, and are commonly past due at 30 days. Lawyers generally want to be paid up through a final order before submitting the order to the court. As with doctors, lawyers have a much time getting paid once the patient no longer needs attention.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Call the Washington State Bar Association and make a complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    It's not her fault the judge is dragging her feet. Whether you must pay what you owe depends on your agreement with the attorney. My guess is you owe the money. Sounds like you are headed to a breach of contract lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation | Elizabeth Jones
    If your attorney has done work for you, then she is entitled to get paid.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    Your retainer with her dictates if you owe her money. Request itemized account of your bill.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    Check with the clerk of court and see if a final judgment and decree of divorce has been filed yet. If not, it is improper for your lawyer to abandon the matter, even if you still owe her money. In fact, a client has the right to fire her lawyer at any time, but may still owe the lawyer for services already rendered. Your lawyer cannot abandon you until and unless she gets a signed order from the judge relieving her as your counsel of record. Try to work things out with your lawyer. If she continues to be unreasonable about finishing the matter, you can file a grievance with the State Bar of Georgia.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Tennison & Soberon-Llort, PL | Christina Soberon-Llort
    Look at the details of your contract with the attorney. If you are not happy with your attorney, you have the option to fire your attorney. However, you are still liable for any outstanding legal bills unless your contract says otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    If you are paying for services already received, like the trial and her preparation for trial, she is entitled to her money. When she gets the judges decision, she has no vested interest in withholding it.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/21/2012
    McIlveen Family Law Firm
    McIlveen Family Law Firm | Angela McIlveen
    Attorney fees are generally set by your contract. You should check your contract to see how your fees are set up. Typically family law attorneys will either work on a flat fee basis, a minimum fee, or retainer basis. After you have reviewed your contract, you should discuss the fee with your attorney. There are times when you will owe an attorney for time worked on a case even if the case is completely resolved.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/21/2012
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