What Does a Family Law Attorney Do – Schools & Salary Guide

Family law attorneys are legal professionals that deal with issues surrounding annulments, divorces, and dissolution of marriages. Most divorce lawyers practice family law and concerns legal aspects of family (adoptions and wills) and marriage (divorces and annulments).

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What Does a Family Lawyer Do

One of the main tasks of family lawyers is the drafting of divorce papers once a client approaches them and requests for assistance. Sometimes, couples mutually agree to divorce and meet only one lawyer for consultation. Family law lawyers are also responsible for:

  • Mediating during the division of assets and properties
  • Child custody & Child support
  • Settlements & alimonies

Also, divorce attorneys can be consulted for pre-nuptial agreements. A procedure that is becoming much more common nowadays.

There are times when divorce lawyers need to appear in family courts in order to settle any disputes that their clients might have regarding their spouse. Almost half of all marriage in the US are said to end up with divorce. Divorces can take approximately three months up to a year before they become finalized.

Also, there are numerous family law attorneys who have represented big cases, such as those that involved the separations of well-known celebrities and executives. It’s not as boring as people expect because it’s totally different from criminal law—it still has the same aspects of it, albeit, the subject matter contrasts.

Divorce & Family Lawyer Salary

According to Payscale.com, the average divorce attorney salary is around $70, 573 per year. However, there are still those who can be paid as low as $45,437 and as high as $140,239 (includes estimated bonuses).

One would argue that instead of asking how  much does a divorce lawyer make, ask how you can get better at your career and with it your reputation as a fair and honest divorce attorney. Many will be more than willing to pay the hefty price of a quality attorney thus putting you on the higher end of the scale when comparing family lawyer salary tables.

What do I need to have before practicing as a family lawyer?

Some of the usual requirements include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Juris Doctor with focus on family law
  • State license (such as in California)
  • Skills in verbal, written, and research tasks.
  • Knowledge of federal and state laws surrounding divorce and custody.

Top Family Law Schools

Are there any schools that can be recommended for those interested to become divorce attorneys?

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Currently, there are two family law programs that are on top of the list for the best family law schools with focus topics such as divorce proceeding and child support.

Columbia University Law School (New York, NY) – Columbia University’s JD and LLM programs have a wide range of family law courses for their students. They include welfare law, meaning in motherhood, Jewish law, and trusts and estates. They also provide family law clinics that cover various laws about gender and sexuality, as well as provide representation for families and prisoners.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law (Indianapolis, IN) – The Maurer School of Law has comprehensive courses like abortion gender roles, adoption, gay marriage, feminist law, children and the law and divorce and division of property in their program. They also have the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic for second and third year students’ clinical experience.

There are also other quality law schools for family law that are ranked as some of the reputable ones when it comes to a family law degree:

  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY) – They have a Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic where their students can have hands-on experience with clients.
  • University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, CO) –Some of their program offerings include juvenile and family law.
  • University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) – Their school has a Child Advocacy Clinic and a Domestic Violence Clinic.
  • DePaul University (Chicago, IL) – The school’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center offers funding for student’s who would like to gain experience in public service.
  • Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) – They have one of the only three Master of Laws in Family Law program in the United States.
  • University of Michigan Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI) – They provide a Family Law Project where their students garner experience by providing pro bono legal counseling to domestic violence victims.
  • Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL) – They offer online classes, as well as a full time or part time program for a Master of Laws in Child and Family Law.
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) – They provide experience for their students via their Family and Domestic Violence Law Clinic.
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It’s a given that not a lot of people steer towards divorce and family law when it comes to choosing a specialty. However, it’s one of those types of careers wherein people who want career growth can flourish, while at the same time helping clients settle their disputes with ex-spouses or other family members.