What is a China Doll Affidavit?

China Doll affidavit.

What is a China Doll Affidavit?

In family court cases, attorney’s fees can be awarded after the filing of an application and affidavit that depicts the attorney’s billable rates, billable time, and tasks, ordering one party to pay some or all of the attorney’s fees of the other party. This is referred to as a China Doll affidavit. But how did this term originate?

In 1976, Seymour Schweiger and Jimmie Komatsu sought to terminate a Phoenix-area lease that existed between themselves and China Doll Restaurant. Inc. This action became the court case  Schweiger v. China Doll Restaurant, Inc.

While the case itself was in regard to breached agreements and lost rent monies, the court denied Schweiger’s request for attorney’s fees after China Doll objected with claims that the affidavit filed was insufficient, un-itemized, and an unreasonable amount. The court ruled that the fee application lacked an agreed upon hourly rate and failed to identify the provided legal services, their dates, and the attorney’s name that performed each task.

Ultimately, this case created the standard through the Court of Appeals that billing must adhere to in order to have attorney’s fees awarded, with the burden being on the attorney themself to provide full information regarding their fees.

Specifically, China Doll affidavits must:

  • Indicate the type of legal service performed.
  • Indicate the date each legal service was provided.
  • Indicate the attorney that provided the service, if more than one attorney was involved.
  • Indicate the amount of time spent performing each service.
  • Be detailed enough to allow the court to determine if the time spent was reasonable.

The party being ordered to pay attorney’s fees is permitted to file an objection stating why these fees should not be awarded and providing clear reasons.

Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving the awarding of attorney’s fees. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.



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