How Much Is A Divorce Attorney Retainer?


Divorce attorneys typically request an upfront fee known as a retainer fee to cover their work on your case and cover related expenses. This money will be held in trust by their office until needed.

As soon as your attorney starts working on your case, they will keep track of time they spend working on it and charge it against your retainer account accordingly. For instance, if it takes him one hour to draft your petition he will charge his hourly rate against your retainer fund.

Retainer Fees

When hiring a divorce attorney, they often request an upfront payment known as a retainer. This money will be held in an independent trust account until your case progresses, when they’ll begin billing against this retainer for costs such as court fees, document filing fees, photocopying/postage charges and process server services fees billed against it.

Retainer fees depend on several factors, such as location, complexity of case and attorney experience and reputation. They may also differ depending on whether it is uncontested or contested – for example contested divorce requires more legal work than an uncontested one – as your case progresses, you will likely need to add more funds periodically as your retainer funds deplete themselves over time; any funds left over from when your case ends should be returned back – though this cannot be guaranteed!

Fees for Consultations

Divorce can be an intricate, time-consuming process with many issues at stake. Friction between you and your spouse over issues like property division, child custody rights or spousal support could impact its final price tag significantly.

If your case goes to trial, your attorney will incur additional expenses related to hiring experts such as forensic accountants and evaluators, court filing fees and witness expenses that can quickly add up.

Most attorneys use retainers to cover initial consultation fees and legal work they anticipate being necessary in your case, with any remaining money going back to you once their work is completed. If you have any concerns or inquiries about payment plans, be sure to ask. Most attorneys are willing to negotiate structured payment plans which can help ease costs for a divorce process.

Fees for Legal Work

As soon as you hire a divorce attorney, they typically require an upfront retainer fee as an assurance that you are serious about proceeding with your case. This fee serves as a down payment and assures both sides that their engagement in legal services hasn’t changed significantly over time.

As time progresses, your attorney will work on your case and bill for his or her time. They often keep retainers separate from their business accounts so they can easily deduct fees and expenses from it.

If the lawyer works as part of a larger firm, your retainer funds may also be used to cover the time and expenses incurred by paralegals and junior associates who assist with your case. Although these staff often charge lower hourly rates than attorneys themselves, all expenses related to them will still be charged back to your retainer funds. Likewise, your lawyer will likely spend considerable time researching legal precedent and preparing for hearings and trials as well.

Fees for Court Costs

As soon as your attorney begins working on your case, he or she places the initial retainer money into trust (a bank account that technically belongs to you). Over the course of your representation, they bill against it; when finished working for you they then move the money from trust into his business account.

Your attorney will usually charge fees such as filing fees, court-appointed expert witness fees (to review financial statements and evidence provided by your spouse), appraised documents or copies made, filing motions against your spouse’s motions, as well as attending hearings and answering them over phone or e-mails. Additionally, their services could cost additional amounts for preparation for and attending hearings as well as phone calls or e-mails from them.

Your costs of divorce may increase if your spouse refuses to compromise and a trial must take place over one or more issues, though New York courts generally encourage settlement and require anyone who knowingly takes their case to trial out of spite to pay both sides’ attorneys fees.