What is a “Retainer” and Why Do I Have to Pay It?

Most divorce and family law attorneys require payment of a “retainer” when you hire or retain their services. A retainer is a lump sum of money that you pay to the lawyer or law firm so that they can collect payment of fees due to the firm for work they complete for your case, as those fees become due.

Sometimes you will be required to replenish your retainer when it is depleted. Other firms may request that you leave a credit card on file for billing after the retainer is depleted. In any event, most divorces are not done for a sum certain, or a “flat fee”, and a lot of clients do not understand why.

Paying an Attorney Retainer in Divorce and Family Law Cases

Divorce cases, depending upon how they proceed, require a different amount of time from your attorney. It is hardly fair for the attorney to be paid the same amount for a case that takes 4 hours to complete as a case that takes 100 hours to complete. No attorney would want to work for the same amount of money for 4 hours or 100 hours of work. In fact, I don’t think any employee would want to work for the same amount of money for 4 hours versus 100 hours! If you work at McDonald’s and they told you that they are going to pay you $100 whether you work 4 hours or 100 hours, let’s be honest — you’d probably quit! The same logic follows here.

Divorce attorneys do not possess a crystal ball that will tell us how much time we will spend on your case, and because of this, we have to take a retainer. The good news about a retainer is that if the entire retainer is not depleted due to working on your case, any sums that remain are typically returned to you. So, you have nothing to lose by paying the retainer. Any sums that are not used for services do get returned to you.

THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AT: https://illinoislawforyou.com/divorce/what-is-a-retainer-and-why-do-i-have-to-pay-it/

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