When most married people want to file for a divorce to end their marriage,
they turn to an attorney to assist them. For many people, the fees attorneys
request to file these divorces are more than many potential clients can
afford. To help obtain financing, these potential clients try to borrow
money from others or use credit cards – until they’ve “maxed
them out”, but often, that still is not enough.
In California, there is another way to assist potential clients in paying
attorneys’ fees: the Family Law Attorney’s Real Property Lien,”
or FLARPL (pronounced FLARpull).
FLARPL allows a client to pay his/her attorney with the proceeds from the
sale of his/her half of the sale of community property; usually, the sale
of the family home or other substantial asset.
FOR EXAMPLE, the attorney estimates the cost of the client’s case
to be approximately $15,000 (assuming no complications). The family home
of the client and his/her spouse has a fair market value of $850,000 with
a current mortgage of $250,000; providing $600,000 in equity. Since the
house is community property, the client would be entitled to one-half
of the equity when the property is sold, or approximately $300,000 (minus
real estate sales fees, etc.). The approximately $300,000 would be adequate
security in the home for an attorney to secure your promissory note for
the $15,000 estimated to represent you. The FLARPL would attach only to
the client’s interest in the property, not the entire property or
the spouse’s interest.
There are legal processes to go through to use FLARPL, and are performed
by the attorney requesting the lien. Basically, the attorney would notify
the court and the client’s spouse of the FLARPL agreement. If no
objection is made within 20 days of the notice, the client’s case
would be handled by the attorney throughout the entire divorce process
without further request for payment. At the end of the case, when the
house is sold, the attorney is paid from the client’s equity in
the home. Once paid, the attorney releases the lien from the property
and the lien no longer exists.
Not all attorneys will accept FLARPL agreements to pay for divorce proceedings,
but it is obviously another way for a client to ensure legal representation