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Law Girl
Law Girl, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4606
Experience:  I have a law practice that is largely dedicated to family law matters.
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I agreed to pay for my stepdaughters retainer fee for her

Customer Question

I agreed to pay for my stepdaughter's retainer fee for her lawyer in her child support fight. I gave her my credit card and told her to put the $2500 on it. She came back with a form (retainer agreement) for me to sign. It's a 2-page document outlining her responsibilities to pay the law firm. At the very end of the document, there is a statement that says; "I guarantee payment of Client's obligation to Law Firm under this Retainer Agreement." I signed under "Guarantor."

What I thought I was signing was a document that says I guarantee that the retainer fee would be paid. That's all I agreed to pay for ahead of time. The firm is coming after me for all of my stepdaughter's legal fees that accrued after the retainer was exhausted. I have a court date next month as defendant #2 in the case. Do I have an argument?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Girl replied 6 years ago.

Law Girl :

Thank you for your question. Although I am an attorney, I cannot represent you. However, I will give you the most thorough information. Although you can try to argue that you did not understand the document that was being put in front of you, there is a legal presumption that you understood what you signed. You may be in a position wherein you have to join your step-daughter to the lawsuit as she is primarily responsible for the legal fees. (However, it sounds like the reason she needed a guarantor was because the law firm was not convinced they could get money out of her if they had to sue under the contract.)

Law Girl :

You have a stronger argument if you spoke with someone at the firm and explained the arrangement you were looking for, they agreed and this agreement came on the heels of that agreement. However, to the extent that you never spoke with anyone at the firm and were presented with this agreement to sign, a court may be inclined to find that you had a duty to read the agreement before signing.

Customer:

I did read it, but understood the document to be a "retainer Agreement." Not all future services.

Law Girl :

Unfortunately a retainer agreement is the agreement that provides for compensation of all services while the firms is on retainer. There is not a separate agreement to get the attorney retained and one to get compensate for future services. Although your confusion is unders

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Expert:  Law Girl replied 6 years ago.
although your confusion is understandable, a court is likely to depend on the four corners of the contract when determining whether to enforce it. You may consider contacting the firm to explain the mix up and see whether steps can be taken to hold your step-daughter responsible for the accrued bill.