Something isn't quite adding up here. Most state bars prohibit attorneys from collecting their fees through assets recovered for their clients in a divorce, so the "getting paid out of a 401-k" statement seems odd. That said, there are two sides to every story, and I'm certain your ex-attorney will have a much different version of events. Read your fee agreement. It will state quite clearly how the fees are earned. If he is owed the money, and you haven't paid him, then he certainly can come after you for the money. Frankly, any cash-out on a 401-k will result in tax liabilities and penalties, so that should have been explained to you clearly by several sources, including your attorney and your fund manager. If you believe you've been misled, you can always file a complaint with your state's bar association.
This answer is not to be considered a response to a specific legal issue in a specific jurisdiction - it is to be considered only a general response to a hypothetical scenario posed by the questioner. For specific legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.
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