BACK TO BLOG August 12, 2019

What Is The Retainer for a Tyler Divorce Lawyer

Lawyers are running a business. And as with any service related business, lawyers can struggle to receive payment for services provided. The most common way to avoid non-payment and collection issues is for the lawyer to use the retainer fee system.

Most Texas divorce attorneys work on a retainer fee basis. What this means is that the lawyer will require an up-front amount of money to be deposited into a firm trust account. Each billing period, the lawyer will keep track of his or her time and then submit a bill to the client.

Essentially, the payment of that bill will be guaranteed by the money in the retainer account. Each month, the client must refill the retainer up to a specified amount.


Lawyer and client sign a contract that requires a retainer of $5,000. The lawyer charges $250 per hour and does his or her billing at the end of each month. On the last day of the month, the lawyer prepares a bill for the client that includes:

  • 6.5 hours worked on the case, for a total services fee of $1,625.00 (6.5 hours X $250 per hour)
  • $450.00 of case expenses (including filing fees and service fees)
  • The total fees and expenses for the month are $2,075.00.

After reviewing the bill, the client approves the bill and agrees that all of the charges are reasonable and were necessary in the case. These amounts are due immediately. Failure to pay will result in payment from the trust account and the client will be required to refill the trust account.

How are Retainers and Hourly Rates Calculated?

Each attorney sets their own hourly rates and the retainer amount. Hourly rates among Tyler divorce attorneys vary widely based upon the experience of the attorney, how busy the attorney is, and the location of the case.

Retainer amounts can vary widely as well. The largest driving factor for a divorce retainer is usually the anticipated amount of litigation involved. If one spouse is digging in for a fight or making demands that will require a lot of work to be performed by the lawyer, the retainer will usually be higher.

In Tyler, the typical hourly rate for a Tyler divorce lawyer will be anywhere from $250 per hour to $400 per hour. Typical retainers among Tyler family law attorneys can range from $3,000 to $10,000.