How Much Do Divorce Lawyers Make? (Salary and Job Outlook)

Updated January 3, 2023

A person surrounded by research or study materials sits on their couch at home while studying the screen of their laptop.

Divorce lawyers are law professionals who specialize in legal separation, marriage dissolution and annulment and divorce. Divorce law is a generally well-paying profession that involves a particular combination of skills and education. If you're interested in a career in this field, it's important to understand what to expect in terms of remuneration, prospects and requirements.

In this article, we discuss how much divorce lawyers make, what their job outlook is and what the job entails, then list skills these lawyers often have and describe how to become one.

How much do divorce lawyers make?

Divorce lawyers are a subspecialty of family lawyers, who earn an average salary of $111,291 per year. Your specific earning potential as a divorce lawyer may vary depending on factors such as:

  • Location

  • Experience

  • The number of cases you manage

Newly established lawyers typically have fewer clients or work on a team with other lawyers. Those with less experience often charge lower rates. Some divorce lawyers elect to open their own practice or to work as a partner in their current firm. These options may give you more control over how much you charge clients and which cases you take.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Related: FAQ: How Much Do Family Lawyers Make? (Plus What They Do)

What is the job outlook for divorce lawyers?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment of all lawyers, including those who specialize in divorce law, to increase by 10% from 2021 to 2031. This is faster than the predicted 5% average for all occupations combined. The BLS attributes this growth potential to the continued demand for legal services. Concerning divorce lawyers in particular, the demand arises from not only the ongoing rate of legal separation but also the necessity to navigate legal matters related to adoption.

Related: Career Outlook and Challenges for Lawyers (With Salaries)

What does a divorce lawyer do?

Divorce lawyers assist clients who are considering or are currently in the process of filing for divorce. Specific duties of the job may include, but aren't limited to:

  • Helping clients divide assets

  • Interpreting the law for clients

  • Preparing and filing legal documents based on the county and state in which they work

  • Advising clients in making custody and separation decisions

  • Negotiating divorce ownership for assets like property and financial accounts

  • Presenting child custody cases in front of a judge or civil court

  • Questioning witnesses and gathering information for legal cases

Read more: Learn About Being a Lawyer

Essential skills for divorce lawyers

Divorce lawyers apply a diverse range of hard and soft skills as a part of their job, including 

  • Analysis: Analytical skills are crucial for evaluating information for cases.

  • Negotiation: Much of a divorce lawyer's job is negotiating, as when they arrange for a fair separation of assets or a child custody schedule that works for both spouses.

  • Communication: Strong verbal, nonverbal and written communication skills are requirements of the profession. In addition to understanding the needs of clients, divorce lawyers also express these needs to judges.

  • Research: When divorce lawyers aren't in court, they are often conducting research, particularly into legal precedents and laws that apply to their cases.

  • Interpersonal skills: Divorce lawyers work with clients during one of the most challenging points in their lives, so strong interpersonal skills are indispensable.

  • Time management: Most divorce lawyers have multiple clients, so it's crucial to be able to manage the research and court dates of each one.

  • Project management: Divorce lawyers also manage numerous projects. They may spend part of the day in court and the rest meeting potential clients.

  • Problem-solving: Another important aspect of a divorce lawyer's job is solving problems. They help devise productive solutions to their client's legal challenges.

Related: 9 Skills for a Successful Lawyer (And Tips To Improve Them)

How to become a divorce lawyer

If you're interested in becoming a divorce lawyer, follow these steps:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for law school. You can major in practically any discipline, though a pre-law program is likely the most practical choice. Other applicable majors include English, psychology, social work and sociology. Make sure to maintain a good GPA and build work experience in the community to be a competitive candidate for graduate law programs. Additionally, in the last year of your undergraduate program, begin studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), the two-part, multiple-choice exam that measures your ability to do well in law school.

Related: Law School Requirements: 7 Steps in the Pre-Law Process

2. Complete law school

Another requirement to become a divorce lawyer is to complete a graduate law program accredited by the American Bar Association. The first year of law school consists of entry-level legal courses and legal research. During your second year of law school, you begin taking specialized courses. If you want to become a divorce lawyer, pursue courses like family law and marital law. Also, when you pursue your internship, seek a position with an agency that handles divorces.

3. Pass the bar exam

Passing the bar examination for your state is a requirement for licensure. This exam is available only in February and June. The first part of the test is the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), the second is the Multi-State Essay Examination (MSEE) and the third is the Multi-State Performance Test (MPT). A passing grade in each section is necessary to qualify for your law license. Once you pass the exam, you attend a formal swearing-in ceremony and may begin practicing law.

Related: CPA vs. Bar Exam: What's the Difference? (With Requirements)

4. Join a law firm

Once you've become a licensed divorce lawyer, begin searching for positions with law firms. You may begin your career as a junior lawyer, assisting other lawyers with their cases. Over time, as you develop your skills and learn more about the marital laws in your state, you may advance in the firm. After you've developed your family law experience, you could consider opening up your own practice.

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