One of the biggest questions people have when contemplating divorce is the cost associated with it. Unlike most firms, we don’t hide our fees and the costs of divorce, we want you to come into this with open eyes and a full understanding of everything that is going on.
A retainer fee is a deposit paid to the firm at the time the lawyer is hired. As lawyers, we don’t control the cost of cases, believe it or not. Our clients determine the cost based on the level of conflict. That means that the more complicated your case is, the higher your retainer may be.
A retainer fee is an upfront fee that you must pay to hire the firm. The firm then takes this payment and puts it in trust for the client. The lawyer’s hourly rate (i.e. hours worked on the case), court costs, etc. will then be deducted from the retainer amount that you have in trust. Any amount of the retainer that is not used, will be refunded to you at the conclusion of the case or representation.
The biggest hurdle to hiring the lawyer of your choice is often the retainer fees. Our retainers are refundable as well, so any portion of the retainer that is “unused” is refunded to you at the conclusion of your case. We can take a retainer fee by way of a credit card, a check, cash, or someone else can make a deposit on your behalf. No matter what, the funds go into a trust account for you and remain your funds until we bill against them.
Amount of the Retainer:
Retainer fees range from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the case. Most retainer amounts will range from $5,000 to $10,000. Note, however, that a replenishment would be required if the first deposit that you paid has been spent. The factors that increase the retainer are: (a) whether there are children involved in the suit; (b) assets involved in a divorce; (c) anticipated level of conflict; (d) the attorney on the other side; (e) the court that the case is filed in; and, (f) the probability that a client will pay in the future.
Additional Funds: How will you pay for fees that go over the retainer? There are a variety of methods, but usually it involves getting a bill and being asked to send in a check for more. Sometimes a client is required to keep a certain positive balance, called an “Evergreen Retainer” – because there is always green ($$) in the account. Our firm will send the client monthly invoices which provide detail of how time was spent working on the case, the cost for that month, and the amount of funds remaining in that client’s trust.
We bill hourly for our divorce cases. This means you pay for exactly what you need and not a dollar more.