Family Attorneys assist clients with legal matters involving families and family relationships. Divorce, child custody, alimony, paternity, child emancipation, domestic violence, and adoption are just a few of the issues these lawyers handle. Family Attorneys help guide their clients through some of the most stressful events in life. In addition to skills in litigation and negotiation, lawyers in this specialty need to possess some counseling skills to help navigate emotionally charged situations. Family-related issues can often be intense, and working as a Family Attorney can be stressful.
A Family Attorney should also have some basic knowledge of accounting and financial matters. They frequently have to deal with dividing assets during a divorce, alimony payments, or child support issues, and present financial plans and proposals in court.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
- Draft motions, marriage and divorce agreements, division of assets, and child custody documents
- Appear at court hearings to argue motions or represent a client in a trial
- Negotiate with clients and opposing attorneys
- Assist clients with navigating family court
Education and Background
This position requires a Juris Doctorate as well as a license to practice law in the state where the candidate will work.
Courses in basic accounting, finance or law school specialization in child custody issues, property rights, and related subjects are preferred.
Skills and Competencies
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Knowledge of federal and state laws and regulations regarding marriage, divorce, child custody, and division of assets
- Research skills
- Analytical thinking
- Expertise in negotiation
- Counseling skills
According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Family Attorney with
1 Year of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $36,000
- Tampa, Florida: $38,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $38,000
- Miami, Florida: $55,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $54,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $65,000
- Houston, Texas: $52,000
- Los Angeles, California: $60,000
- New York City, New York: $70,000
- Seattle, Washington: $60,000
- Overall: $55,000
5 Years of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $42,000
- Tampa, Florida: $59,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $47,000
- Miami, Florida: $70,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $75,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $73,000
- Houston, Texas: $63,000
- Los Angeles, California: $80,000
- New York City, New York: $80,000
- Seattle, Washington: $71,000
- Overall: $70,000
Similar Job Titles
- Family Law Attorney
- Divorce Attorney
- Matrimonial Attorney
Family Attorneys are required to have a Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school and a license to practice law in the state where they work. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to pursue a J.D. degree. College coursework in subjects like basic accounting, as well as law school courses in child custody law, property rights, marriage and divorce law, and related subjects is preferred.
Most attorneys start in law firms as associates, then progress on either a partner or non-partner track, leading to positions as partners, senior attorneys, or of counsel.
Family Attorneys should be aware of some significant trends that impact their chosen profession. One of those, according to an article on the career planning website The Balance Careers, is the concept of collaborative law. It’s an alternative to litigation for divorcing spouses and other clients involved in different family law disputes. In collaborative law, the parties hire attorneys who commit to using group meetings to include both parties in all negotiations. The aim is to resolve the matter without going to court. Should either party decide to go to court after all, both attorneys agree not to represent either party in court. Another social trend that may affect how Family Attorneys do their work is conscious co-parenting, in which parents who decide to get divorced choose to present a united front to their children. The parents agree to custody terms on their own, rather than through a potentially adversarial court hearing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for attorneys is expected to grow by six percent between 2018 and 2028, which is as fast as average.
The typical work hours in an office setting for a Family Attorney are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, many attorneys work more than 40 hours a week, especially when nearing deadlines or preparing for court proceedings.
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