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What is a Divorce Lawyer Retainer

by | Apr 28, 2022

Divorce is one of life’s most challenging events. In addition to the  emotional and pragmatic challenges, divorce is made all the more overwhelming by a set of financial and legal steps most people aren’t familiar with until they go through it themselves. We’re here to help demystify the process. One of the most common questions people have when hiring a divorce lawyer is: how much does a divorce lawyer cost? The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer will vary greatly depending upon the lawyer’s hourly rate, pricing model, and the length and complexity of the divorce proceedings. While some lawyers charge a flat fee, most divorce attorneys work on a retainer. With a retainer, you pay upfront for a lawyer’s services, so you immediately have access to all the help and advice you need. 

How does a divorce lawyer retainer work?

A divorce lawyer retainer is essentially a down payment or deposit for legal services. The retainer fee amount is an estimate of how much it will cost in total to complete your divorce. The retainer is designed to cover your lawyer’s services as well as their administrative costs, and any additional fees associated with your case. The amount is based on the lawyer’s hourly rate multiplied by the estimated number of hours it will take to complete your case, plus any predictable administrative and court costs. The total cost will vary based on how much your lawyer charges per hour, and how complex your situation appears to be. 

The retainer fee is held in a trust account and will only be accessed by your lawyer when she/he bills for services rendered. You will likely get monthly statements detailing how much of the retainer has been spent and how much is left. If there is money leftover after your divorce has been settled, in most cases it will be returned to you. 

Factors that can prolong a divorce and/or drive up the cost of your divorce case include a custody battle, mismanaged finances, or other disputes that make the divorce contentious

Understanding the retainer agreement

If your lawyer works on retainer, you will receive a retainer agreement to be signed before your lawyer can begin working for you. The retainer agreement is a contract detailing what services will be covered by the retainer fee, and how billing will be done. Be sure to read your retainer agreement and ask questions until you feel comfortable that you understand everything fully. 

It’s important to remember that you do not have to face this challenging time alone. Let our team of compassionate, experienced attorneys handle the legal battle for you. We will advise you as you navigate this unfamiliar territory and plan for the next chapter of your life. When emotions run high, you need a lawyer you can trust to protect your rights and ensure all goes smoothly. 

Vanden Heuvel & Dineen have more than 40 years of experience with family law in Wisconsin. Call today or send us a message for a consultation. 

Written by Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.

Divorce | Family Law

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