Become a Divorce Attorney: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a divorce attorney. Research the education and career requirements, licensure information and experience required to start a career as a divorce attorney.

View popular schools

Should I Become a Divorce Attorney?

Divorce attorneys are experts in the legal filings, asset division, and child custody aspects of marital separation and dissolution. They work to ensure that their clients' rights are protected throughout the divorce process and try to ensure their client receives a fair settlement once the marriage is legally dissolved. Long work hours are often required, and travel is sometimes necessary.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advanced Legal Research
  • Comparative Law
  • Energy and Environmental Law
  • Financial, Banking, and Securities Law
  • Health Law
  • International Business, Trade, and Tax Law
  • International Law
  • Law Degree
  • PreLaw Studies
  • Programs for Foreign Lawyers
  • Tax Law
  • US Law

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree plus a Juris Doctor (law degree)
Degree Field Family law
Licensure State licensure is required (Bar exam)
Key Skills Strong verbal, written, research, problem-solving, analytical and organizational skills; knowledge of federal and state divorce and custody laws, knowledge of document management softwares like Adobe Acrobat; accounting software to bill clients; project management and database software; and research programs such as LexisNexis or WestlawPRO
Salary (2014) $114,970 (median salary for all lawyers in 2014)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONET OnLine.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step toward becoming a divorce attorney is earning a bachelor's degree. There is no required major for law school acceptance, though aspiring attorneys might benefit from studying pre-law to receive education in legal concepts and to ensure all prerequisite courses are included in their undergraduate study. The American Bar Association (ABA) suggests that students engage in multidisciplinary study that includes philosophy, government, mathematics, and English. A degree in sociology, political science, or history would likely fulfill these recommendations.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in mock trials. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends that aspiring attorneys participate in mock trials hosted by either a school or lawyer's office. Mock trials allow students to work alongside licensed lawyers and learn how court proceedings work.

Step 2: Pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

Prospective students must take the LSAT as part of the law school admissions process. The LSAT uses multiple-choice questions to test students' abilities in logical reasoning, reading comprehension and analytical reasoning. Acceptance into most law schools is contingent upon a minimum LSAT score.

Success Tip:

  • Take an LSAT prep course. The LSAT, like the SAT, does not test a student's knowledge of any particular discipline. Instead, it tests how an individual analyzes information and makes judicious conclusions based on that information. The exam is also timed, requiring test takers to employ proper time management skills. Many private companies offer tutoring options for prospective law students, which may be a good investment for individuals wanting to receive a high score and attend a top tier law school.

Step 3: Earn a Law Degree

Law school is a postgraduate program that begins with a broad education in law and ends with specialty courses. Typically, it takes three years of study to earn a law degree. A student's law school must be approved by the ABA or by his or her anticipated state of legal practice. Students typically begin their legal studies with classes in legal writing, torts, contracts, and constitutional law. They then move on to upper-level courses such as family law, where they learn basic knowledge of family discord, divorce settlement, property management, domestic violence, and child custody.

Success Tips:

  • Submit research and writing to law journals. Law schools typically have their own law journal that's issued on a regular basis. The BLS advises that law students compile research and publish legal articles through their school's law journal in order to gain experience and stand out within the law program.
  • Develop negotiation skills through practical experience. Most law programs include trial simulations and other field exercises so that law students can gain real world experience before graduation. For prospective divorce attorneys, some marital or divorce classes might require negotiation of a marital separation agreement in an actual family court.

Step 4: Pass the Bar Examination

Graduating from law school doesn't give attorneys the power to practice divorce law; that status is only achieved by passing a state's bar exam. According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), eligibility to take the bar exam comes after completing bachelor's degree coursework and graduating from law school. Few states allow students to take the bar examination before graduation.

Per the NCBE, some states accept graduates of non-ABA approved law schools if they meet other requirements. Students should also check with their local bar admissions agency to determine which written bar examination(s) it accepts. Most states accept scores from the Multistate Bar Examination but may also request that prospective attorneys take additional tests. There's no specialty bar examination for divorce attorneys. Except in limited cases, the bar examination must be taken in the state where a divorce attorney wishes to practice.

Step 5: Continue Education

Continuing education (CE) is required in almost every state for attorneys to maintain bar status. State CE requirements vary and may need to be completed annually or every 2-3 years. A divorce lawyer can continue his or her education through the ABA's Center for Professional Development. In addition to ensuring that a divorce attorney doesn't lose his or her bar status, continuing education can help a lawyer stay current with laws and advances in the field.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Criminal Justice
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Laws (LL.M.) - American Legal Studies
    • M.A. in Law - Human Rights & Rule of Law
    • M.A. in Law - International Business Transactions
    • Master of Arts in Government - Law and Public Policy
    • Master of Arts in Law
    • Master of Arts in Law - General Legal Studies
    • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Government - Pre-Law
    • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Government
    • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • BA: Criminal Justice
    • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
    • AA: Criminal Justice

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Criminal Justice, M.S.
    • Criminal Justice, B.S.
    • Criminal Justice, A.S.

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?