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In CA, does a family law atty's property lien trumps unrecorded liens in priority even though the atty had constructive notice?

Pasadena, CA |

My atty put a FLARPL on my property even after I told him there are other liens on the property that has not yet been recorded. So my atty records his lien as soon as he learned that. The other lien holders then recorded their liens. I just want to know if there aren't enough funds in the proceeds who will first be entitled to payments? Does constructive notice play a factor in this?

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Filed under: Lien
Attorney answers 3


The attorney lien prevails as it is recorded first in time.

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more information is needed. But, generally, first in time, gets first in line for payment. If there were other liens not filed, then they are not first in line. The fact you told the attorney you thought there were other liens not filed, does not necessarily mean the attorney had constructive knowledge of the liens. It may be the attorney thought they liens you told him/her about were not legally effecftive - I mean who knows what the attorney thought about what you told him/her. It does not necessarily mean the attorney had constructive knowledge. The lien situation and the fist in time rule do not involve an issue of bona fide purchaser issue which does take into consideration constructive knowledge. You might want to double check that the attorney followed all the necessary steps to perfect a lien against your proper in the first instance- there are signficant ethical considerations and precautionary measures that should be pursued by an attorney before liening on a client's property. Including disclosure to you about potential conflict and obtaining a waiver in writing from you. I hope this was helpful. If you have found this helpful and/or the best answer, please let the attorney know by checking the appropriate box below. It will be greatly appreciated. Thank you and best of luck to you.

Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, as each situation is fact specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Timothy John Broussard

Timothy John Broussard


I agree. Also, here is a couple thoughts. There are requirements by the lawfirm to perfect a security interest in the property and our firm typically avoids these issues. Regardless, it doesn't prohibit the lawfirm from suing you for recovery of attorney's fees later under your agreement. It might be best for you to allow the attorney to be paid first. The other lien holders may loose their right if they are lenders, or banks. But, I would sepeculate they are other judgment creditors. These unsecured creditors may not puruse a lawsuit based on the costs. Needless to say, your attorney would have a cost advantage later. The others would be required to retain a lawfirm, or loose a siginficant percentage. Of course, unless there is a bankrupcty involed in this situation.


Whoever recorded their lien first comes first. If there are not enough funds to pay off all the liens, then the lienholders would typically be asked to accept a lower amount.

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