State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Family & Divorce Lawyer

Forty to fifty percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. In 1969, California was the first state to legalize no-fault divorce. In 2010, New York was the last of the fifty states to approve it.  No-fault divorce does not require any evidence of wrong-doing on the part of either spouse. Although divorce is a difficult emotional decision, in terms of the law, it can easily be granted under a no-fault divorce ruling.

Divorce in the United States is in accordance with state law rather than governed extensively by federal regulations. A divorce lawyer specializes in civil law. This field can be saturated with emotions and life-changing decisions. Therefore, a divorce lawyer must delicately yet justly handle a wide variety of family law issues from divorce, marriage annulment, and legal separation to child custody, child support and visitation rights. They are also called divorce attorneys or family practice lawyers.

A divorce can take three to twelve months to finalize. However, it depends on how the divorce is filed. It may be a fault or no-fault divorce, contested or uncontested divorce or simplified divorce. The many legal issues to settle and the amount of conflict to mediate influence the time frame.

Educational Requirements

There are no specific educational requirements for a divorce lawyer however, some courses are advised. Law school attendance and passing the bar examination is compulsory.  With an interest in divorce law, a law student may select courses in family law to help him specialize in child custody issues, family dysfunction and property rights. While pursuing a Juris Doctorate (J.D.), a law student can receive a certification in family law. In addition, certain law schools offer a Master of Law (LL.M) in Family Law which would follow the acquisition of a J.D..

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Job Description & Skills Required

When terminating a marriage, many legal aspects must be addressed. A divorce lawyer is responsible for the division of assets and debt among spouses. If there are children involved, a divorce lawyer helps set the terms for child custody and child support. Thorough research is required in order to gather supporting evidence in each case. Detailed paperwork must be compiled and then submitted to the court documenting the evidence.  For legal separations, a divorce lawyer carries out the separation through court orders.

A divorce lawyer must excel in a few unique skills. They have to be an attentive listener because the decisions made in or out of court will greatly affect their client’s lives.  Although it may be difficult, it is vital a divorce lawyer remains non-judgmental to assist them in promoting their own client’s best interests. Their interpersonal skills must be strong because they are dealing with a variety of relationships in their profession. Advocacy, mediation and alternative dispute resolution skills should be acquired and mastered in law school as well as through continual work experience in the field.

Salary and Job Outlook

A divorce lawyer’s yearly salary can range, on average, from $48,000-$80,000. As a divorce lawyer builds their reputation in the field, the hourly rate they charges and therefore, salary is likely to increase.

Because the divorce rate is so high in the United States, a large percentage of clients frequently seek out divorce lawyers’ services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the next 8 years through 2020, it is estimated employment for lawyers will grow ten percent. This is in step with the national average for all occupations. However, expect competition to remain steady as more law students are graduating than there are job positions available. With high competition, lawyers must be willing to relocate and have a variety of work experiences on their resumes. Relocation to a different state means passing another state’s bar exam.

 

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