GENERALLY, IN FAMILY LAW MATTERS, a written retainer agreement is required by law so that the client knows exactly what responsibilities and obligations are involved. A retainer payment is generally required by a matrimonial attorney, which is an advance payment of fees to be earned by the attorney on an hourly or part of an hourly basis.
My hourly rate is presently $400 and the retainer I require depends on the nature of the case. As a rule of thumb, the retainer is my estimate of the time charges which will be incurred by the client if a case goes rapidly and well, without any complications. When the retainer payment is exhausted on a time-charge basis, the client is billed monthly and payment is required to be made promptly.
My hourly rate is the same whether I am handling a divorce or mediation matter. However, in a mediation case, the retainer and overall cost to the clients is usually much less.