What is a Legal Retainer and How Does It Work?

Most attorneys (and many other professional service providers), when contracting at an hourly rate, will require an up-front payment known as a retainer. The retainer is placed in the attorney’s trust account and then used to pay for legal fees earned by the attorney and expenses related to the client’s matter. A retainer is the client’s way of guaranteeing to the lawyer that the client is financially able to employ the lawyer’s services and is committed to funding the matter.

The retainer still belongs to the client until it is earned by the attorney or used for legitimate expenses, and must be returned if unused. For instance, if a client pays a $3,000 retainer, and the attorney only accrues $2,000 of billing and expenses on the matter, $1,000 is returned to the client.

Generally, a retainer is not meant to cover the entire cost of a matter. Rather, it is a prepayment for a certain number of hours of the attorney’s services and expenses associated with beginning a matter. The retainer is an important way that the attorney and client establish a trusting relationship. By funding a retainer, the client is indicating that they can trust that the attorney will hold their funds for them until earned, and the attorney is indicating that they trust the client to continue the financial terms of the arrangement after the retainer is depleted.

For further information regarding retainers or other financial terms of representation, contact Fenza Legal Services with any questions that you have.

Is a Marriage Planning Agreement Right For You?

wedding-rings-152336What is a Marriage Planning Agreement?

A Marriage Planning Agreement is a negotiated contract between you and your spouse, either before or during your marriage, which memorializes the expectations of the couple in a legally enforceable document.  It is similar to a business partnership agreement, except instead of the terms of a business, the parties are agreeing on their expectations for one another in the marital relationship. A Marriage Planning Agreement covers topics such as:

  • Who owns property that was held before the marriage? Who owns property that is acquired during the marriage?
  • Will one spouse be financially supporting the other? What is each party expected to contribute to the household?
  • Do the parties have children together? Are they expected to? Will there be a primary caretaker?
  • What happens in the event of divorce? Should either spouse pay alimony? For how long? Who owns the house?

Like a business partnership agreement, a Marriage Planning Agreement is an indispensable tool for ensuring that both spouses have the same expectations for the marital relationship. Nobody would begin a business partnership without negotiating a partnership agreement. It is equally prudent not to begin a marital relationship that will hopefully last the rest of your lives without clear communication about what each person expects from the relationship.

A Marriage Planning Agreement can give you maximum flexibility to address issues your way, without interference from the government or anyone else who wants to tell you how your marriage should be.

Why Get a Marriage Planning Agreement?

1. You Already Have One

contractWhen you get a marriage license, you are subject to hundreds of laws and regulations which govern every issue addressed in a Marriage Planning Agreement. The difference is that when you negotiate an agreement, you are writing it yourself instead of the government writing it for you.

 2. It Encourages Communication

speech-bubble-1423322Before getting married, not many couples discuss their expectations with the level of detail necessary for a relationship expected to last several decades. A Marriage Planning Agreement can encourages couples to communicate in detail about all facets of the future of the relationship.

 3. It Prevents Future Litigation

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Divorce can be an ugly and expensive process. While couples rarely expect to divorce, it is a risk for even the best marriages. A Marriage Planning Agreement takes much of the stress and expense out of divorce by negotiating many of the terms beforehand.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Fenza Legal Services to discuss your options today!