Post-judgment, there are two basic types of attorney fees. The first type is when judgments separately include specific attorney fees within them; and the second type is when post-judgment attorney fees are allowed as a court-approved cost, which is added to the amount owed on the judgment. Can attorney fees on judgments be collected? That is a trick question because any money recovered on any judgment, depends only on the available assets of the debtor.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
When judgments specifically include and identify lawyer-related fees, those fees are usually included within the total owed to satisfy it. Some judgments are many pages long, and sometimes you must hunt around to find several individual amounts; and figure out the total owed yourself. Some judgments are so complex that it may take a court clerk an hour to determine if the math for a writ of execution is correct. When judgments include attorney fees, those fees become part of the judgment itself, and they are not treated any differently.
When post-judgment lawyer-related fees are allowed, and can be included as part of the costs of recovering t; that means the judgment itself states that post-judgment, attorney fees to attempt to recover the judgment can be added. Sometimes, lawyer-related fee judgments are separate motions with new orders, after the first judgment was rendered.
Whether or not post-judgment lawyer-related fees may be including in the total amount owed on the judgment; usually depends on the cause(s) of action for the judgment itself, often the specific underlying contract that was breached, and the laws of the state. In California, there are CCPs 685.040 and 1033.5.
There are time limits for any motions for costs either before or after the judgment. Lawyer-related fees incurred during litigation or in recovery attempts; can sometimes be filed by the prevailing party. In California, pre-judgment one would use forms MC-010 and MC-011, and post-judgment, the MC-012 form.
In California, when lawyer-related fees are allowed on recovery attempts, they are claimed by either a noticed motion under CCP 685.080, or on a MC-012 form under CCP 685.070. In California, usually one puts attorney fees on line two of the MC-012 form. Some judges will only allow claims for attorney fees using a noticed motion, and will grant any valid opposition to attorney fees listed on a MC-012; even in situations where the law allows it.
Usually, when “post-judgment” judgments are for attorney’s fees, the underlying judgment still belongs to their client. In some cases, the client has already paid their attorney; and the attorney files a motion for attorney fees, to get their client back what was previously paid to the attorney. Sometimes, an attorney might get sanctioned, and ordered to pay some money to the opposing party; and the original debtor will not owe that amount.