Hiring A Divorce Lawyer? What To Know About The Retainer

Posted on: 28 December 2020

Are you going through the divorce process and need to hire a lawyer? If so, they are likely going to request that you pay a retainer for their services. This is money that is paid at the beginning of the legal process, and it will cover your legal costs to ensure that the lawyer gets paid. Here are a few things that you need to know about the retainer. 

Retainers Will State The Lawyer's Hourly Rate

Part of paying a retainer means that you will know what the lawyer's hourly rate is before you get started with using their legal services. This should hopefully make it quite clear how much it will cost for any interaction with your lawyer, including how their time is rounded up. For example, there may be a 15-minute minimum, where a 10-minute phone call would be rounded up to 15 minutes. 

In addition, be aware that a lawyer's hourly rate may change during the divorce process, which should be stated in the retainer agreement. This often happens if a divorce stretches out over a very long period of time, and the lawyer raises their hourly rate for all their clients at the same time. The retainer agreement will state when this rate change may happen, and what it could go up to.

Retainer Fees May Be Refundable

Be aware that your retainer fee may or may not be refundable, which depends on the lawyer that you are working with. This means that if your case is billed for less than what you paid for the retainer, the retainer agreement may state that the lawyer can keep the remainder of the retainer. However, other lawyers will give back any money left from the retainer that was not used for legal services. Make sure this is clear with your lawyer before you get started. 

Retain Fees Include All Miscellaneous Expenses 

In addition to simply paying for your lawyer's time, be aware that a retainer will cover all of those odd costs that will add up over the divorce process. For example, your lawyer will have travel fees for going to and from any in-person visits and printing costs for paperwork that needs to be generated.

Retainers Need To Be Replenished When It Is Almost Gone

There will be a threshold where you are required to add more money to your lawyer's retainer if you have used up the existing funds. The retainer agreement will make clear what the threshold is, as well as how much must be added to the retainer. 

Contact a divorce lawyer if you have more questions.