Monday, May 14, 2012
The New Jersey Appellate Division has affirmed a trial court decision to not enforce a law firm's charging lien in a hotly disputed divorce action. The trial court had established an educational trust for the benefit of minor children.
When the adults in the controversy are unable or unwilling to act in the best interests of their own children, the court must be free to act, swiftly, decisively, and unfettered by extraneous considerations. The establishment of a judicially crafted educational trust fund is but one of a myriad of creative remedies in the court's equitable arsenal. An attorney charging lien, or any other of the possible numerous claims that can be asserted against a family's limited resources, cannot undermine the court's parens patriare responsibility. The monies supporting the education fund are restricted to cover the cost of the children's college education, and would thus not be available to plaintiff at the time of final disposition.
The court further held that the trial court's "actions here are not inconsistent with the protections afforded attorneys" because the funds were not available to the plaintiff at the final disposition of the matter.