In Shipman v. City of N.Y. Support Collection Unit (183 Misc 2d 478, 703 NYS2d 389 [Sup Ct, Bronx County 2000]), an attorney represented a mother in a paternity claim against a professional baseball player.
After years of litigation, a filiation order was issued and child support directed.
The Family Court also ordered $10,000 in attorney fees to be paid by the father to the mother's attorney. Thereafter, the City of New York's Support Collection Unit (SCU) obtained funds seized from the father's bank account.
The seized funds were less than the amount owed by the father for child support arrears. Therefore, the funds would only offset the arrears in child support and there were no additional funds to pay the $10,000 awarded by the Family Court to the mother's attorney.
The mother's attorney asserted a charging lien on the sums held by the Support Collection Unit and demanded payment prior to any distribution to the mother.
The court in Shipman acknowledged that the funds held by the SCU were solely the result of the attorney's work.
The attorney argued: "The New York State Legislature has expressly stated that New York's public policy under Judiciary Law § 475 was to encourage attorneys to represent those persons without funds to pay in advance to retain qualified counsel." (Id. at 481.)