Child Custody Lawyer Careers

Becoming a child custody attorney falls under the category of family law. These types of lawyers represent families that have become embittered in all types of volatile situations. There is no shortage of cases and work available for family attorneys, especially those who specialize in child custody. This is an ever-expanding field has more lawyers are becoming involved primarily in family law. This can be a rewarding option as the services of a child custody lawyer could bring justice for families in tough predicaments. There is also a specific process to follow on the way to becoming a child custody lawyer.

Child Custody Lawyer Education

Before seeking out a specialization in what type of law you would like to practice, there exists the initial requirement of completing an undergraduate program. In order to become a child custody attorney, there is no required major at the undergraduate level. However, a bachelor’s degree is required to move on to law school.

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Once a bachelor’s degree is earned, the next part of the process involves getting accepted to an accredited Law School. Admissions are very competitive, which emphasizes the need to build an impressive resume throughout one’s undergraduate career. The more accolades and experience students can acquire, the better their chances are of being accepted. Also, much of the decision-making process revolves around an applicant’s LSAT scores.

The LSAT is the first step to entering a law school. The acronym stands for Law School Admission Test as students prepare rigorously in an effort to achieve the highest possible score. There are four parts of the test, which include reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, as well as a writing sample. Because law school admissions have become so competitive, LSAT scores are extremely important.

Getting admitted to an accredited Law School allows students to continue their pathway to becoming a child custody lawyer. Law School curriculums cover a three-year span and most students attend to on a full-time basis. There’s an extensive amount of reading involved in these curriculums, which is why it is important to choose an undergraduate major that prepares for this type of workload.

Achieving a Juris Doctor Law Degree comes at the end of this three-year increment. However, students will need more than just a law degree to take the Bar Examination in their respective state. The next step in the process is taking and passing the MRPE, which stands for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. Only two States, Maryland and Wisconsin, make this test a non-requirement. In the other 48 states, those looking to take the Bar Examination will need to take and pass the MRPE, which focuses on ethics.

Passing the Bar Examination is the final step in a child custody lawyer’s education. Many candidates take months to prepare for this examination, even after they have graduated from law school. It is a rigorous exam, which encompasses all facets of the law. Different formats are used on a state to state basis and they include the MBE (Multistate Bar Examination), MPT (Multistate Performance Test), MEE (Multistate Essay Examination) and UBE (Uniform Bar Examination).

The practice of law can only begin after a Bar Examination has been passed with an acceptable score. Below is a checklist that can be used in route to becoming a child custody lawyer:

  • Receive a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Take the LSAT
  • Gain admission to a Law School
  • Receive a Juris Doctor Law Degree
  • Complete and pass the MRPE
  • Pass the Bar Examination in your respective state

Job Description and Skills

A child custody lawyer operates under family law. In situations where parents cannot agree on custody of their child, the matter is settled in a court of law. In that setting, parents enlist a child custody lawyer to represent them throughout the process. Child custody lawyers provide legal counsel, advice and instructions on how to navigate through the process. There are a lot of details involved in child custody hearings as it accounts for the primary caretaker of a child, any special needs, potential interactions with members of the household, the existence of abuse, as well as the overall adjustment of a child to the environment.

Child custody lawyers work closely with parents and often prepare them for courtroom experience. Child custody lawyers also handle mediation, which is recommended in many states. Courts may order mediation in which family members and their respective lawyers will attempt to resolve the custody matter in a controlled setting.

Child custody cases arise when parents cannot agree on various components of a child’s welfare. A child custody lawyer is recommended during the following occurrences:

  • Expected or documented abuse of a minor
  • Contested proceedings involving child
  • Visitation rights
  • Parental right termination
  • Adoption

Child custody lawyers may work for parents or other family members who have custody of a child. The situation may call for the need to enforce an existing order. In many instances, child custody agreements are violated and that requires the expertise of a lawyer to help mitigate this process. Any changes in child custody also have to be done legally in a court of law.

Child custody cases are sometimes part of a divorce. That is why child custody lawyers are often well-versed in a variety of areas of family law. A family lawyer can typically handle all facets of a divorce which may include child custody, child support and other necessary components. Those interested in becoming a child custody lawyer would assume a career that includes the following duties:

  • Investigating the specifics of custody arrangement
  • Conducting negotiations
  • Gathering records involving parents and children
  • Making hearing requests
  • Producing evidence to support their client
  • Collection of child support payments
  • Communicated child’s preferences to a court
  • Offering recommendations while in court

Child custody lawyers may also be required when a parent passes away. There are even instances when grandparents, other family members or even close friends of a family will attempt to gain custody of a child. Those attempts will be assisted by a child custody attorney with proficient knowledge in family law. All parents should understand their legal rights when it comes to their children and a child custody lawyer can shed light on the specifics.


The salary of a child custody lawyer typically averages more than six figures, although it is not the highest-ranking salary among lawyers. The nature of the work indicates that financial compensation does not come in great abundance with every case. Unlike some high-profile civil cases, those who are involved in child custody battles are not always the most affluent members of society. This can influence what child custody lawyers can expect to receive in regular fees from clients who reside in their immediate area. Geographic location factors greatly into the amount of annual earnings a child custody lawyer can expect to earn. Those who are located in areas with higher poverty rates will typically make less money than those located in more affluent areas.

The annual median salary of a lawyer in the United States is $135,740, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there are salaries that exceed that median amount, as well salaries that are below that amount. Child custody lawyers can expect their annual income to be adjusted by numerous factors that include the size of the firm they work for, their overall experience, past client reviews, and overall record.

Child Custody Lawyer Job Outlook

Child custody lawyers practice under family law, which currently has a high demand. The divorce rate in the United States indicates that child custody lawyers will continue to have a favorable outlook for the future. However, more unwed couples are giving birth to a high number of children. Pew Research statistics indicate that one out of every four parents in the United States are not married. Those statistics also show that one out of every five children is living with a single female parent.

With the number of unmarried parents on the rise, there remains a high demand for child custody hearings. Even when parents are amicable towards one another, child custody becomes an integral part of raising a child. Many couples opt to have this matter resolved in a court of law, which typically comes with the hiring of a child custody attorney.

The job outlook for child custody lawyers is reflected more in the trends associated with marriage and single parents, as opposed to overall lawyer job projections. Child custody is evolving into an ongoing legal contract, which means acquiring legal representation has also become part of the process.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Lawyers reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2023.