Some lawyers and I recently were discussing the problems of family law cases in which the parents are paying for a child’s attorney’s fees. It is a very common situation, given the finances of many young married couples. Parents are usually quite willing to pay for attorney’s fees in family law matters to make sure their children and, often, grandchildren are protected. But they also may have other goals. They could be very intent on their child being awarded “full custody.” They could be overly hostile in their attitude toward their child’s spouse since they knew the person was a poor choice from the beginning. But those parents, with their greater life experiences, can also be a calm voice of reason during emotional and turbulent times.
That is the opening paragraph for my Oklahoma Bar Journal Law Practice Tips column this month- Client: ‘Can My Parents Pay for My Attorney Fees?’ Lawyer: ‘Yes, but…’
Third payment payment or guarantee of payment of attorney’s fees is not rare, but there are some potential problem areas, which I discuss in the piece. But I also decided to get a little out of my comfort zone and draft a form for lawyers to use in preparing their own Agreement For A Third Party To Pay Attorney Fees. No warranties or guarantees are expressed or implied. It is just my form. So use it at your own risk. (The download link is in the online version of the article.)
But I think one thing is for certain. After you read the column and think about it a bit, if you don’t have such an agreement and your firm allows third party payments or guarantees, particularly in family law matters, you will very likely decide you do need such an agreement for the future.