The first question anyone asks when they call my office is how much do you charge? How much is this divorce going to cost me?
That depends on a variety of factors.
First there will be a retainer. The vast majority of divorce attorneys will ask for a retainer or a security deposit for their fees before they are hired. A typical retainer in the Chicago Metropolitan Area for an average case can range between $2500.00 to $5000.00. For higher asset cases or more complex matters the retainers can be higher.
What does the attorney do with the retainer? It goes into a special trust account that the lawyer cannot touch until he or she has billed you. The lawyer’s fees per hour down to the minute are deducted from that retainer.
Is the retainer non-refundable? Absolutely not. The attorney must refund any portion of the retainer that he or she did not use.
But how much will my entire case cost? That often depends on the number of court appearances. It also depends on how many issues you and your spouse cannot agree on. The more issues you have and the more issues you have to have a judge rule on, the more expensive your case.
In Illinois, there is mandatory mediation on child custody and parenting time issues, once you file even if you have an attorney. In Cook County, mediation on child related issues is offered by the County at no cost.
Divorces can be costly but the more you can agree on through your attorneys, directly through your spouse or through mediation, the less they will cost.