How Does Our Collaborative Divorce Retainer Work?

If you have been considering divorce, hopefully you have looked at the private and non-adversarial Collaborative option.  If so, you may recognize that it is a better option for most families as you and your attorneys are working together to reach a resolution rather than wasting time and money on preparing for a trial that likely will never happen.  After all, 80 to 90+% of all divorces end in an agreement rather than a judge-imposed solution; accordingly, in Collaborative Divorce, the attorneys and other professionals focus solely on reaching an out-of-court agreement and are prohibited from engaging in contested court hearings.

You may have heard that lawyers generally require retainers.  Our firm believes in transparency, including transparency of retainers.  The goal of this post is to inform you of our requirements and make sure you are knowledgeable on and comfortable with how we operate.

How Our Collaborative Divorce Retainer Works

Here is how our Collaborative Divorce retainer works:  Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm requires a non-refundable Initial Fee and a credit card or debit card to securely hold on file.  The Initial Fee typically ranges between $4,000 to $6,000.  Our hourly rate goes against the Initial Fee.  If the Initial Fee gets used up, so long as you have a valid card on file we do not require any additional retainers, unlike most other firms.  Rather, we will charge your card on a pay-as-you-go basis.

You can find a range of our current hourly rates in our FAQ page.

We are oftentimes asked whether clients have to pay our hourly fee on top the Initial Fee.  No, the hourly rate goes against the Initial Fee until the Initial Fee is used up.  It is only once the Initial Fee is used up that you will incur any additional charges from us.

If the Initial Fee gets used up, we will invoice you and charge you periodically.  The frequency of our invoicing depends on how much is going on in your matter.  If your Collaborative Divorce is moving on a fast clip, we may invoice and charge your card as frequently as weekly or bi-weekly, and if you and your spouse have decided to take a pause, it might be months between the invoices you receive.

It is important to note that the Initial Fee is not a flat fee; your Collaborative Divorce can, and likely will, cost more than this Initial Fee.  None of the Initial Fee is refundable; it is earned upon receipt.  Additionally, the Initial Fee reflects not only the number of hours that we may devote to your representation, but also the experience, reputation, skill, and efficiency of the attorneys, as well as the potential inability of the firm to accept other matters during the pendency of your representation.

Caveats about the Collaborative Divorce Retainer

Before we conclude, I want to provide a few caveats.

Every lawyer and law firm has different fee agreements and retainer requirements.  This post only applies to how things work at Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm and not to other law firms.

Further, the Initial Fee does not include any costs, such as the court’s filing fee to finalize your divorce.  It also does not include fees for your spouse’s Collaborative Lawyer or to any other professional (such as a Collaborative Facilitator or Neutral Financial Professional) who may be on your Collaborative Divorce Team.

Additionally, this is accurate as of February 2024.  We are constantly tweaking and attempting to improve our efficiency and the client experience.  Accordingly, if you are reading this in the future, this information may be out-of-date.  The best way to determine that is to contact us and schedule a time to speak.


Before you hire an attorney for your Collaborative Divorce, it is important that you understand how their retainer works.  We value transparency, and we strongly believe the best clients are well-informed clients.  If you want to learn more, we invite you to click the button below and contact us.

Adam B. Cordover is one of the most experienced Collaborative Divorce lawyers in Florida.  He is a member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and recipient of the inaugural Visionary Award of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.  Adam is co-author of an American Bar Association book on Collaborative Practice and has trained judges, lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial professionals in Collaborative Practice throughout the U.S., Canada, France, Israel, and Brazil.