What Is a Retainer Fee for a Divorce Attorney?

What Is a Retainer Fee for a Divorce Attorney?

January 1, 2022

When you hire a family law attorney, you may be asked to pay a retainer fee. If you’ve never had to work with lawyers before, the idea of a retainer fee might not be as clear as it could be. What are they, and what is their purpose?

Think of retainer fees as “down payments” for a lawyer’s services. Since family law cases can vary wildly in terms of complexity, timing and other factors, many lawyers are hesitant to offer a flat fee or give you an estimate of how much their services will ultimately cost. You pay the retainer fee up front, and the lawyer will deduct their hourly wage from the cost. When the retainer is used up, you may need to pay another fee if the case hasn’t wrapped up.

Will I get refunded?

Typically, if there’s anything left in the retainer fee after the case is settled, that amount is refunded to the client. However, this may vary. Make sure you read the fine print on your retainer agreement before you sign it, and ask plenty of questions so you know what to expect. It’s also important to find out whether the retainer fee covers costs like administrative fees, expert witnesses and other expenses. If not, you could be putting out additional money before the retainer has been used.

How will I know how much I have left on my retainer?

Generally, lawyers will send you a monthly accounting of what they’ve charged against your retainer. This is to keep you updated, so you can either rest assured that the retainer will cover your costs for a while, or be prepared to pay more in fees when it runs out.

If your attorney charges administrative fees and other costs to the retainer, those should be accounted for as well. If they’re not, and you believe they should be, call the family law attorney’s office to find out what’s happening.

Is a different type of fee better?

If your case is very simple—such as filing paperwork for an uncontested divorce—a lawyer might offer you a flat fee instead. For example, they might agree to handle your entire divorce for a few thousand dollars, rather than billing you for each hour spent working on your case. This can be a good deal for both the lawyer and the client, since the client won’t have to wonder how much more money they’ll have to pay.

Retainer fees aren’t inherently undesirable, however, so if your case isn’t suitable for a flat fee, don’t worry. This is a common way to retain a family law attorney’s services, and will ultimately give you a better understanding of where your money is going.

If you need a family law attorney for your divorce, call the Law Office of Rob Biggers today. We can help advocate for your needs, no matter how complex your case may be. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

**This Blog/Website is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog/website you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.**

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