Divorce—with its associated legal fees, filing fees and retainer fees—is expensive. In order to begin work on a case, a divorce attorney will require a written retainer agreement. Retainer fees for a divorce lawyer in Illinois fall within a wide range and are influenced by variable factors.
What is a divorce retainer?
A divorce retainer is simply the upfront fees a divorcing individual pays to a divorce lawyer so that the professional can begin work on the case. The fees are based on the anticipated amount of work the lawyer will undertake in order to adeptly represent the divorcee in court.
Retainer fees are deposited into a trust account, and these funds technically still belong to the client. Once the lawyer performs work on the case and submits the bill, the funds in the trust account are transferred to the attorney’s business account.
An Illinois attorney requires a written retainer agreement in divorce and family law matters. Outlined in the retainer agreement are billing specifics, such as the attorney’s hourly rate and the hourly rates for legal work done by junior attorneys and paralegals.
Standard expenses incurred during representation, like courthouse parking fees and postage, are added to the retainer agreement. Additional expenses connected to the case are billed to the client and include communicating with the spouse’s attorney, conducting depositions, performing research and post-trial follow-up work.
The client is advised to carefully review the retainer agreement and ask questions when doubts arise. Depending on the terms in the agreement, unused retainer fees or a portion thereof may be nonrefundable. Usually, however, unused retainer fees are returned to the client.
What are the retainer agreements options?
In Illinois, clients have the option to choose from any of the following types of retainer agreements. A classic retainer ensures the divorce lawyer will be available should litigation arise. A classic retainer, which can range from $200 to $500, is also known as the initial consultation fee.
When a client opts for the classic retainer, the divorce lawyer is paid whether or not any legal work is done. The classic retainer also serves as a conflict-of-interest barrier; the divorce lawyer will not perform legal work for, or represent, the other spouse.
In a flat retainer, the lawyer and client discuss the case, agree on the fee and, once payment is made, the legal work is started and completed. Clients are not billed for every single activity related to the case, whether it is a phone call, text message or document copy.
The advance fee retainer is welcomed by most Illinois divorce lawyers today. An advance fee is paid to the attorney, which then immediately becomes the latter’s property for tax purposes. All legal work done is billed against the retainer. The client receives a monthly statement showing the retainer balance.
The security retainer is least popular amongst Illinois lawyers, who generally prefer the advance fee or flat fee retainers. As legal work is done, the lawyer pulls the client’s money from the trust account. The funds then become the lawyer’s property.
What is the average cost for Illinois divorce retainers?
Every divorce is unique, and differing circumstances require widely varying divorce costs. Plus, divorce lawyers have the liberty to set their own rates, which adds to the steep variance in legal fees. Depending on the Illinois divorce attorney, average retainer fess can range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more.
Retainer fees factor in anticipated work, which means higher fees when more issues are expected to be contested. Contentious divorces naturally will take more time and, therefore, require greater legal fees. Disputes about issues, like property division, child custody and support, draw out the length of the case.
Furthermore, expert testimonies used in court come at a cost. Testimonies from professionals help determine the value of homes, businesses and antiques. Ultimately, the divorce lawyer does not have the final say when it comes to divorce costs—the contentiousness of the divorce plays a larger role.
In the US, legal experts claim the average cost of divorce is $15,000. In Illinois, divorce proceedings may be completed for under $4,000. Contested divorces, as mentioned, drive up the legal fees associated with the divorce. Clients working with an attorney, however, can save money on divorce costs.
A qualified divorce attorney can curtail the costs of divorce by determining what issues are most important to the client. A divorce attorney reviews with the client the significance of each issue. Some matters are best negotiated, while ceding to certain issues is advised by a good divorce lawyer.
A divorce retainer is essentially a down payment for legal services. The complexity of the Illinois divorce case determines the amount of the retainer. Once paid, however, the divorce retainer solidifies the agreement for legal representation and prevents the lawyer from any conflict-of-interest engagements.
Work with a Divorce Attorney
The complexities of divorce require experienced family law professionals. When you work with the divorce attorneys at Allen Gabe Law, PC, you have a firm of qualified and knowledgeable legal professionals on your side. We will expertly represent you in all matters of divorce.
If your divorce is contested, the divorce lawyers at Allen Gabe Law, PC, perform extensive research to back your case. We work diligently in accordance with Illinois family laws to help you reach your goals and safeguard the well-being of your children.
We also skillfully handle uncontested divorces, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, property division, spousal support, child support, domestic violence, financial agreements and child custody and visitation. Our lawyers stay up to date on Illinois divorce laws in order to provide qualified representation.
When you seek legal counsel in anticipation of a divorce, turn to the family law attorneys at Allen Gabe Law, PC. Our upfront approach and professionalism continue to earn the trust of countless satisfied clients in the Schaumburg, Illinois, community.
Contact us at (847) 241-5000 ext. 241 or fill out a form for a confidential consultation.