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Sign Here, Please: What Is A Retainer Agreement?

When you hire an attorney to assist with a divorce or other family law matter in Minnesota, you will likely be asked to sign a Retainer Agreement and pay an initial sum of money (the “retainer”) prior to representation. What is this Agreement, and why do you have to pay in advance?

Retainer Agreements vary in length and contents but, at their most basic, they spell out what exactly the attorney (and staff) is and isn’t being hired to do, explain how you will be charged for legal services, and set forth how disputes are handled. The purpose of the Retainer Agreement is to protect both you and the attorney and it affects your legal rights and obligations; You should always read it carefully before signing and ask for an explanation of anything you don’t understand.

Along with a signed Retainer Agreement, most attorneys ask for payment of an initial “retainer,” which is held in a trust account and serves to pay your bills as they come due. As you deplete the funds in your retainer, you will typically be asked to replace them. Retainers vary substantially depending upon the attorney and the type and complexity of the case; amounts between $5,000 and $10,000 are common, but they can be higher or lower.

In addition to paying legal fees, retainers provide money to cover expenses that must be paid by the attorney, such as court filings costs. Promptly paying and replenishing your retainer ensures that your attorney can continue representing you properly.

If you need assistance with divorce or any family law matter, call Kruse Family Law PLLC at 612.231.9865 or email

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