Divorce Lawyer Salary in 2021 【All US States】 | CareerExplorer

The Average Divorce Lawyer Salary is $85,349

Divorce Lawyer salary

Divorce Lawyer Salary 2021:

EXPERIENCEANNUAL SALARY
Less than 2 years$51,000 USD
More than 2 years$93,000 USD
More than 5 years$171,000 USD

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How Much Do Divorce Attorney Make?


Law is one of the highest-paid professions in our country. But the income varies in the field in which lawyers excel. As of this year, an average divorce lawyer salary ranges between $79,393 and $97,061 in the US. However, a divorce lawyer’s salary depends on multiple factors and as they excel in this field, their average salary and hourly rate are more likely to get increased.

Divorce lawyers who practice in bigger cities have a chance to earn up to $100,000, it is because the lower living cost in smaller cities also affects a divorce lawyer’s income.

Who Is A Divorce Lawyer?

A lawyer that specializes in family law is known as a divorce lawyer. These attorneys are also called family lawyers because they not only handle divorce cases but family issues and domestic relations cases too. A family and divorce attorney also has experience in child custody, child and spousal support. Simple divorces don’t require lawyers but few complex cases need competent representation.

Generally, families with anger issues failing to reach an agreement, and cases where there is substance abuse, child abuse, or spouse abuse need a legal representative. A divorce attorney explains the rules and procedures and laws to the client’s family and ensures that the necessary documents are completed and to filed to be presented in court. As the work of these people revolves around multiple matters, hence a divorce lawyer’s salary is set according to the case.

Divorce Lawyer Salary by City / State:

City Annual Salary
Richmond, CA $101,742
Stamford, CT $99,070
Bellevue, WA $98,847
Lakes, AK $95,381
San Francisco, CA $95,358
Palmdale, CA $94,331
Santa Clara, CA $93,974
Hartford, CT $93,788
Pasadena, CA $93,445
Glendale, CA $92,897

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Requirements To Become A Divorce Lawyer:

Divorce Lawyer

To become a divorce lawyer, there are no additional requirements, all you need to have is a bachelor’s degree and a few additional courses that will help you become a better family and divorce lawyer. Attendance in a law school and passing the bar examination are necessary.

People who have an interest in becoming a divorce attorney, or must choose courses that will help them excel in this field. Courses in family law include child custody issues, property rights, and family dysfunction. Those who pursue a Juris Doctorate get a certification in family law. Like every other lawyer, the experience will help in determining a divorce lawyer’s income.

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What Skills Do Divorce Lawyers Require?

The process of terminating a marriage can be a hard one, not just for the family but for a divorce lawyer, if hired. A divorce attorney is responsible for the distribution of assets and debts equally between spouses. If the couple has a child, the lawyer will settle the terms of child custody and provide details regarding child support.

Divorce lawyers must have excellent research skills as they are responsible for gathering evidence and submitting detailed and accurate paperwork in court. They must be attentive listeners to notice and observe all the details as whatever decision is made, it will affect the couple’s and the family’s life.

Interpersonal skills, advocacy, and dispute resolution skills should also be a part of a family and divorce lawyer’s personality. These skills are taught in law school and can be mastered through experience which automatically raises the bar of a divorce lawyer salary

How Much Do Divorce Lawyers Make In A Year?

As recorded on March 16, 2021, a divorce attorney can make $83,151 annually. In this case, the average hourly rate for a divorce lawyer turns out to be $40. However, these salaries can go as low as $24,000 and high as $117,500 annually. The U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics has revealed that in the upcoming years the rate of employment of lawyers can increase up to 10 percent.

Currently, the divorce lawyer salary lies between the range of $60,000 and $97,000. The top earners make approximately $105,00 annually in the US. A divorce lawyer’s salary varies significantly, denoting that there is room for improving and excelling in this field and has an increased pay scale.

Top 10 States With High Divorce Lawyer Salaries

For your ease, we have categorized divorce attorney salary by a state that pays the divorce attorney more than the national average. Number one on our list is Richmond CA, followed by Stamford CT, and Bellevue WA in the second and third positions. Richmond is 22.4% above the national average while Bellevue beats it by 18.9%. Have a look at the full list of the countries along with their annual salaries.

  1. Richmond, CA – $101,742
  2. Stamford, CT – $99,070
  3. Bellevue, WA – $99,847
  4. Lakes, AK – $95,381
  5. San Francisco, CA – $95,358
  6. Palmdale, CA – $94,331
  7. Palmdale, CA – $93,974
  8. Hartford, CT – $93,788
  9. Pasadena, CA – $93,445
  10. Glendale, CA – $92,897

Even though Richmond tops our list of highest divorce lawyer salary, the process of hiring new divorce attorneys is moderately low as compared to other cities. The work opportunities in these states where the rate of divorce lawyer salary is higher will result in economic advancement. Lawyers can switch locations, to gain experience which will prove to be fruitful for their career.

How Do Divorce Lawyers Charge Fee?

A divorce lawyer salary is calculated by how much they charge in an hour. Unlike other attorneys, divorce lawyers don’t take a flat fee because every case is different from another and may require either shorter or extensive research and preparation. There are cases when the surface situation looks similar, but the results can be different.

Some cases settle down in two or three short meetings between the spouse, while others can drag the divorce case up to three years. Hence, the lawyers cannot predict how much work the case needs. But, a divorce lawyer’s average annual salary somewhat remains the same.

Factors Affecting Divorce Lawyer Salary

The hourly rates of a divorce lawyer can vary due to several factors. Some of the lawyers charge more when they are requested to prepare for the trial. Plus, it depends upon the location of the attorney, their experience, and additional certifications. We’ll discuss each factor in detail below:

Location:

A divorce attorney’s salary by the state is also an important factor that determines the hourly rates. Lawyers who work in metropolitan cities charge more than those who work in smaller cities or towns. If you live in big cities, hiring a divorce lawyer can cost you around $50 – $75. The rates are not fixed in small states too, they also vary due to the experience and the kind of case that they deal with. This also signifies, switching locations will automatically increase a divorce lawyer salary

Work Experience

According to researchers, lawyers tend to increase their hourly rate every time they climb a step on the experience ladder. A divorce lawyer’s salary can be minimalist in the start but the divorce lawyer’s average salary doesn’t go below $60,000 annually in the US. Pursuing family law isn’t easy, it requires years of practice to be able to handle difficult family and divorce cases.

Duration Of The Case:

It is obvious that cases which are dragged for a longer duration are more draining and require extensive research. If spouses take a longer time to resolve issues, the rate will increase. The type of issues, time for gathering evidence, and complex financial statements all add up in divorce lawyer salaries. Thus people should find lawyers that are efficient and experienced as it will help to reduce the cost.

What Is A Divorce Retainer?

A divorce retainer is the advance amount that an attorney takes before proceeding with the case. The retainer is a roughly calculated amount that will be required by the lawyer to represent your case till the end. These retainers can cost around $2000 to $5000. The retainer is not the only legal fee, it also includes the filing fees for the official papers filed with the court.

After the client pays the retainer to the attorney, they deposit it in the trust account that is created to hold the client’s money. This money is under the client’s name until the divorce process is completed and the attorney bills for it. If the client provides them with the retainer, the divorce lawyers provide them with a written agreement. The written agreement clearly states the divorce lawyer’s hourly rate, junior attorney’s hourly rate, and other standard costs that incur during the whole divorce process.

If there is any money left in the retainer after the case is closed, the attorney makes a note of it in their file it might be non-refundable. As every divorce lawyer has its own set of terms, it is essential for the client t read the terms of the retainer carefully. In most cases, the unspent money is given back to the client after the lawyer has billed all the expenses and the money is taken out from the trust account.

Duties As A Family And Divorce Lawyer

The duties of a family and divorce lawyer are different for every case. But, generally, lawyers are responsible for helping their clients to get through the legal processes easily. From initial meetings till coming to terms with spouses. Have a look at their duties in detail below:

  • They advise the couple regarding how to deal with marital property, bank account, credit cards, and other mutual assets
  • They give updates to the client regarding the progress of the case, court hearings, and phases of divorce proceedings.
  • The file and prepare the paperwork that includes, summons, custody papers, complaints.
  • A divorce lawyer provides the spouses with an intermediary that deals with the conflicts throughout the divorce process if any. These conflicts can be arguments over property, child custody, or disputes on any other family matter.
  • A divorce lawyer represents their client in all court hearings

What Do Divorce Attorney Charge For?

Divorce lawyers, generally charge for everything they do with you regarding the case. It typically includes:

  • Every kind of communication they have with you either, phone email or texts and also dealing with the quick status of your emails and phone calls
  • Communicating directly with the spouse or their attorney or anyone else involved discussing the status of the case
  • Performing thorough research and gathering data which is in favor of their client
  • Preparing settlement agreement
  • Scheduling and preparing for court trials and hearings
  • All post-trial workings after the decision of the court

What Other Costs Are Included In A Divorce Process?

Until now we know how much money do divorce lawyers make, and what factors contribute to a divorce lawyer’s salary, but apart from their fee there are many other costs included like administrative and copying costs, mediation costs, and expert fees. These costs are equally divided between the spouses and according to surveys, an average of other costs is $1850 for each spouse.

However, this cost varies for each couple. Some spouses take a long time to settle disputes that raises the fee of experts and forensic accountants. The average costs in difficult cases can go high up to $3000 for each spouse.

After the trial, the lawyer bills their clients with the additional costs. You can find this information in the fee agreement section that states how the costs will be taken care of. Generally, the other costs are discussed in the first meeting with the attorney.

Summary

There is no doubt that a divorce is an emotional event in one’s life and such events should be handled by a professional person with a reasonable perspective. A divorce attorney is responsible for taking care of all the matters that are included in a divorce process.

A divorce with contested issues like child custody, abuse, alimony cost more than divorces who don’t have such issues. Most couples choose mediation where a neutral third party is involved who guides the spouses regarding a divorce settlement agreement.

Hiring a divorce attorney can be a toll on the bank account as their fee is quite high. But since they possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, they handle the cases efficiently and save the spouses from further damage. All the hard work and duties they perform make a family and divorce lawyer’s salary worth it.

Written by Jade Lewis

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