Retainers are funds the attorney works against and are held in trust. They bill at an hourly rate. If the hourly billing is less than what is held in trust the balance is returned to the client upon termination or withdrawal.
Some attorneys do not like to have less in retainer than the whole case will take, others will set their retainer on a normal 45-60 days billing cycle, and ask for more if necessary. The good news there is that the initial retainer is lower but the badnews is that that client will be expected to make monthly billing payments to keep the litigation funded.
So, it might be a good idea to ask the attorneys you interview what their retainer request is based on.
The answer depends on the facts and how much work the attorney anticipates and to some extent on the legal market. Attorney Tajara Dommershausen is from that general part of the state and has a good reputation for family law disputes. I suggest giving her a call but also shopping around a little bit to see what others might charge and whether you are a good fit with different attorneys. I can tell you that in the La Crosse area that for an "ordinary" custody fight, an attorney might ask for a retainer as low as $1000 or as high as $4000. When attorneys anticipate fighting with an attorney on the other side, they will quote higher retainers.
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