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Custody Lawyer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a custody lawyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degrees, job duties and state licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Custody lawyers work with a parental guardian to persuade the court that their client is better fit to take care of a child. They typically must travel to meet their clients, analyze and explain their case, and give legal advice.

Essential Information

Attorneys specializing in family and custody law are known as custody lawyers. These professionals assist clients with legal battles over the guardianship of children. Custody lawyers need to complete an examination to enter law school and another to receive state licensure after completing a 3-year law program.

Required Education Juris Doctor
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Custody Lawyer Job Description

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), custody lawyers act as advocates and represent one party in legal custody battles (www.bls.gov). They present evidence to support their side and attempt to convince the court that their client should gain or retain custody of their children. Custody lawyers also provide counsel before a case goes to trial.

Job Duties of a Custody Lawyer

Custody lawyers must be able to work irregular or additional hours throughout the course of their 40-hour workweek, according to caseloads and trial demands. Traveling is a common job duty for this career; custody lawyers may need to meet at offices, courthouses, law libraries and clients' homes.

Typically, custody lawyers advertise their services to the public and let clients seek them. They meet with potential clients to determine the validity of a custody case. After an agreement is met concerning the lawyer's fees, they'll offer legal advice and begin assisting with the research and preparation of each client's custody case. On the appointed date, a custody lawyer meets the client in court and represents them throughout the trial process. Ideally, a custody lawyer explains each step of the process to the client and offers the best advice possible for each scenario.

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Custody Lawyer Job Requirements

In order to enter law school, a student must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), offered by the Law School Admission Council (www.lsac.org). In addition to LSAT scores, law schools also look at undergraduate transcripts, work experience and interview performance when selecting applicants.

It is recommended that would-be custody lawyers graduate from a school with approved accreditation by the American Bar Association (www.abanet.org). Prior to applying for law school, students must complete a 4-year bachelor's degree program. Completing law school takes roughly three years, which makes the total required schooling for this career about seven years. Many law schools offer part-time or night classes. Continuing education is recommended for custody lawyers to help them remain knowledgeable about changes in the law, and as of 2015, almost all states required mandatory continuing education for lawyers, according to the BLS.

To practice law in the United States, a custody lawyer must obtain licensure, which in the legal field, is also called being admitted to the state bar. This process involves passing a written bar examination, along with passing a separate ethics exam offered by the state. In some cases, lawyers who pass one state's bar exam may be admitted to another state's bar without having to retest, if they possess good work records. Most bar examinations last for six hours and cover a wide range of law issues.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The BLS anticipated a 6% increase in the employment of lawyers (including custody lawyers) from 2014-2024, due to the continued demand for legal services. Although lawyers' salaries may depend largely on their specialty and location, the BLS reported that in May 2015, the overall median wage of lawyers was $115,820 annually.

A custody lawyer helps their client obtain or retain ownership of their child/children, advising them before and after the trial. These lawyers must go through the necessary requirements of college and law school completion, in addition to licensure.

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