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Family Law is a broad area of law that covers relationships between people and sometimes between individuals and the state.  Although most family law is practiced at the state level according to state legislation, federal and international law may also be involved (for instance, when intercountry adoptions are involved).  Family law is a highly legislated area of law.  Family law practitioners often work as solo practitioners but can also work for law firms as well.  Many family law attorneys work for one of several state agencies involved in family law, e.g., Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), Guardian Ad Litem Program (GAL), Office of Regional Counsel.

Attorneys practicing in this area of law often specialize in divorce, adoption, guardianship, termination of parental rights, and surrogacy, among others.  Family law attorneys often represent spouses in divorce proceedings.  They advocate for their clients in issues involving equitable distribution, alimony,  time-sharing agreements, parenting plans (custody), and more.  Because so many family law issues are in a constant state of flux, many attorneys represent clients in proceedings brought to modify a final judgment or order, e.g., modification of alimony, modification of parenting plan.  Some attorneys work for the state, for instance, DCF and represent the state in proceedings brought against a neglectful or abusive parent to terminate his or her parental rights.  

Job Types Typical Duties
Federal Agencies
  • Varied, depending on the agency
  • Research
  • Drafting policy
State Agencies
  • Representing the state in dependency proceedings.
  • Representing parents or children in dependency proceedings.
Private Law Firms
  • Helping clients through a divorce including: Division of assets and debts, determining child support and timesharing
  • Adoptions
  • Mediations
  • Negotiations
  • Drafting correspondence.
  • Representing clients in court

Student Organizations

Other Activities

Curriculum Considerations

Take a look at the Law Curriculum Mapping Guide to see courses related to a career in Family Law.  In addition, it will help you identify faculty that you can speak to regarding this area of practice.