I've discovered that it's important what wording you use, for legal purposes. Instead of "deposit" or something else, calling something a "retainer" gives you a legal right to keep the money should you ever be taken to court over it. The wording in my contract is this: I require a retainer of [half the total amount] upon signing this contract. This secures your birth on my calendar and is applied toward my total fee. The retainer fee becomes non-refundable and non-transferrable after 72 hours. The remainder of the fee is due no later than three weeks before your estimated due date. I also make sure that I have a signed contract with *EVERY* client before their first prenatal meeting with me. (Furthermore, I get a signed confidentiality release and a separate signed "fees page," leaving a copy with them as well.) This way there are no disputes later, and if there are any, I'm protected. It's much easier for a client to come after a business than it is for a business to go after a client for non-payment. My parents are both also entrepreneurs, and I've learned from their hard lessons that it's better to be safe than sorry.
I hope this helps!
Last edited by TrueNorthDoula; 03-06-2016 at 01:58 PM.