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5 Things You Should Ask a Divorce Lawyer Before Paying a Retainer

Posted by on Mar 7, 2015

Divorce procedures can be very messy. If you do not make the right moves and decisions, you will probably lose the case. The first thing you need to do is find yourself a good lawyer that will defend your interests in court.

However, a good lawyer does not come cheap these days. Divorce attorneys want to make sure that their services will be paid off after the case. This is why the client and the attorney have a pre-agreed amount when it comes to retainers.

Things You Should Ask a Divorce Lawyer Before Paying a Retainer

A retainer is an assurance that the client will still be able to pay for the services of the hired attorney. This is because they want to ensure that despite other elements that deplete their client’s bank account, there will still be enough money left for them. Retainers are collected by lawyers so they can put this money in reserve.

Each month, the legal fees and professional fees to be paid to the lawyer will be deducted from the retainer. Retainers can be used to pay the hourly fee of your attorney, the cost of photocopies and faxes, court filing fees, payment to assistants and other employees involved in the case. That is why the agreed amount of this retainer should be large enough to be able to pay for the anticipated amount of expenses.

If you are looking into hiring a divorce attorney and they asked you to provide a retainer, there are five things you should ask a divorce lawyer before paying a retainer.

  1. Is there a contract or written agreement?

When dealing with a large amount of money, you should always ask for the agreement to be on paper. This is to avoid any confusions and unforeseen loopholes to complicate the process. This is also to ensure that you will not be tricked into giving all that money to your lawyer for nothing.

Make sure that the agreed terms and amount is written in the contract. Read the draft and change the terms you do not feel comfortable with. Remember, you are the client and it is your money on the line here. You have to know that the contract you are getting yourself into is fail-safe.

  1. Will I get what is left of the retainer after the case?

Although it is a given that the money should go back to you after you’ve paid all the fees you owe, clarifying it would help, you avoid getting scammed. Ask your divorce lawyer about this and tell him to include it in the contract. By putting this agreement on paper, you will be sure that after the case, your lawyer will not take off with the rest of your money.

  1. Where will the retainer fee go?

You have to know where your money is being kept and make sure that it is not just lying around in your lawyer’s safe. In most cases, lawyers would offer to put it in a trust fund under your name. If your divorce lawyer did not offer this option, then you should raise the issue.

You have to know that your money is safely tucked in a bank. Your lawyer should be the only one who has access to it as well.

  1. Where will you use the retainer fee?

This is one of the most important questions in the five things you should ask a divorce lawyer before paying a retainer. Each lawyer has different terms when it comes to handling the retainer fee. So before you pay the agreed amount you have to know where your money will be spent on.

Do you agree that your lawyer can use it to pay the rates of his assistant? Do you want to include the filing fees under the retainer? These are only some of the questions you will have to talk about.

Determining which aspects of the case will be paid using the retainer would allow you to gage how much you will need. You will also ensure that the fee will no deplete too rapidly. This allows you to have certainty that halfway into the case, you still have enough money to pay for your attorney’s fees until the case is closed.

  1. How will you pay the retainer fee?

You should know what terms you divorce lawyer is asking for. There are lawyers that require their clients to pay the retainer fee as a whole while some give enough leeway to allow their clients to pay it little by little. This would allow you to determine if you have the capability to keep your lawyer or if you should start finding a new one.