Here is a case in which a divorce attorney was permitted it attach a lien to the equitable distribution. Generally, a new "fund" must be created by the attorney’s work [as in a personal injury case with a settlement], but here, the attorney got to attach property which was already the wife’s.
From the NYLJ Zelman v. Zelman, New York County:
"PLAINTIFF WIFE’S former attorney in an underlying matrimonial action moved to enforce a charging lien which he filed pursuant to Judiciary Law §475, upon plaintiff’s distributive award of equitable distribution. Plaintiff argued the attorney’s efforts on her behalf did not create any new funds in the form of equitable distribution to which a charging lien could attach. She alleged the settlement awarded her equitable distribution equal only to the value of real property she already had legal title to. The attorney calculated that the $1.6 million settlement, awarded to plaintiff, exceeded her share of the actual real estate proceeds by at least $300,000. The court found such calculation reasonable, stating the excess amount represented the creation of a new fund by the attorney’s efforts to which a charging lien may attach. Thus, it granted the motion to enforce a charging lien in the amount of nearly $170,000, referring the matter to a special referee for a hearing to determine the amount of legal fees dues. "