What Is the Average Retainer Fee for a Divorce Lawyer? Can’t You Do Everything Alone?
The key issue during a divorce is finding a way to reduce your stress level as much as possible. That’s why you should get familiar with the necessary paperwork, filing procedures, and mandatory separation or waiting period. When it comes to planning your divorce budget, you need to include the price of an experienced attorney if you choose to hire one.
What is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer nowadays? DoNotPay provides the answer together with extra useful tips on the divorce procedure. We can also assist you with the required divorce-related documentation!
Lawyers often charge a retainer fee to handle your divorce case from the beginning. This fee is a down payment for the legal services your lawyer agrees to provide.
A divorce lawyer retainer fee includes the following:
- The cost of legal services—It’s based on the lawyer’s regular hourly fee. Keep in mind that lawyers charge different hourly rates depending on the type of service they provide. It means that while some might, for instance, charge $200 for legal research, they will require more, e.g., $300, to appear in court
- Administrative expenses—This figure is based on the court filing fees and any additional expenses your case requires
The lawyer will use the retainer fee to settle all incurred costs of the divorce case.
While the precise amount of a retainer fee varies from lawyer to lawyer and city to city, the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer goes between $3,000 and $5,000.
You can try negotiating if you cannot afford the amount a lawyer asks for or find another attorney since some might charge less. Keep in mind that:
- Some lawyers may ask for more than $5,000 upfront
- Legal services will increase the cost of your divorce significantly
An attorney will deduct all costs of services provided to their client from the retainer fee. If the retainer is not enough for the case, you will need to pay extra. In case any money remains at the end of your case, you should get it back.
When making all necessary agreements with your lawyer, you should make sure the remaining amount is refundable as some lawyers require non-refundable retainer fees.
When calculating the total amount of the retainer fee, a lawyer takes into account the following costs:
|A Lawyer’s Retainer Fee Includes||Additional Information|
|Hourly rate||Lawyer’s hourly rate will be multiplied by the number of hours the lawyer agrees to spend on your case. It means that if a lawyer’s hourly rate is $250, and they plan to spend 12 hours on your divorce case, the retainer fee will be at least $3,000 (it will be higher when additional costs are calculated)|
|Law company’s expenses||The retainer might include the fees of other law firm employees who will help with your divorce case|
|Additional administrative costs||While some attorneys include court fees and administrative costs in their retainer fees, others might not. In the latter case, it doesn’t mean you won’t need to settle them—you’ll get a bill for them later|
When discussing a retainer fee, you should also keep in mind that your lawyer needs to:
- Open a trust account—Lawyers keep a trust account where they put your retainer fee. This account is separate from their business account
- Provide a retainer agreement—This document should include:
- The specification of costs included in the total amount of the retainer fee
- The way the attorney will handle the trust account, i.e., when they can transfer any funds to their business account
- The frequency of you getting an account statement showing how many hours of service the lawyer has provided
- Go to mediation if you need help resolving certain issues
- Complete, sign, and file the required documentation alone
- Finalize a low-cost and quick divorce
You should outline all the above-listed and any additional matters you agree on in a divorce settlement agreement. No need to consult an expensive lawyer for this document either—sign up for DoNotPay to generate the agreement hassle-free!
Our AI-powered app is familiar with the latest state laws and will ensure your divorce settlement agreement complies with them. We’ll also take into account your specific situation when preparing a rock-solid document.
- Select our Divorce Settlement Agreement feature
- Provide us with information about what you and your spouse have agreed on
- Choose if you’d like to get the document notarized
Once you receive the document, you need to file it with the court. When the judge approves the agreement, it becomes legally binding.
If you’d like to know how to keep your divorce costs in control, you should check out the following table presenting divorce costs across the States:
You should get useful information to make sure your divorce goes smoothly. Check out DoNotPay’s vast knowledge base and find answers to lots of questions, including the following:
- What’s an efficient way to create a shared parenting agreement?
- Can you file for divorce when your spouse is out of state?
- What will happen to your house in a divorce?
- How should you handle children in a divorce?
- Can you get divorced without visiting court?
- What’s the easiest state to get a divorce in?
- What’s an online divorce?
- Can you protect yourself in a divorce?
- What should you expect during a divorce?
- How can you get a divorce without any money?
- What reasons can you provide when filing for divorce?
- How can you have the divorce papers served to your spouse?
- Is there a good way to let your children know that you’re getting divorced?
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