Divorce Lawyer - Definition, Examples, Cases, Processes (2022)

A divorce lawyer is an attorney that specializes in family law, and has experience in issues of divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support. Many individuals embroiled in a family law matter wonder whether they should retain the services of a divorce lawyer, and even whether it is required. While it is not required that any party have an attorney in a family law matter, the complex issues and mountains of paperwork often entice people to consult with an experienced attorney. To explore this concept, consider the following divorce lawyer definition.

Definition of Divorce Lawyer

  1. noun. A lawyer that specializes in mattersof divorce, annulment, child custody, and other family law matters.

What is a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce lawyers are attorneys that specialize in family law. While simple divorces may not call for an experienced lawyer, many situations arise where competent representation is needed. This is especially true when there is a high level of anger and animosity preventing the couple from coming to an agreement on their own, and in cases in which there has been spousal or child abuse, substance abuse, and major property disputes.

(Video) Divorce Process Explained by a Connecticut Divorce Lawyer

A divorce lawyer is able to explain the process, rules, and laws involved in the client’s family law matter, and will make sure all of the necessary documents are completed and filed with the court. The laws governing divorce and other family law matters vary by state, a divorce lawyer should be sought in the jurisdiction where the divorce will be filed.

Duties of a Divorce Lawyer

The duties of a divorce lawyer vary depending on the specifics of the case. In general, however, an attorney is responsible for helping the client throughout the process, from the first meeting, to settling matters after the divorce is finalized. A divorce attorney provides:

  • Advice on how to deal with marital property, bank accounts, credit cards, and other marital assets
  • Assurance of the progress made concerning disputes, court proceedings, and the stages of the divorce proceeding
  • Preparation and court filing of all paperwork involved, such as the summons and complaint, motions, and custody papers, as well as preparation of the final divorce and custody orders
  • An intermediary to deal with conflicts during the divorce process, such as custody disputes, and arguments over property
  • Representation at all court hearings

Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is a highly emotional event in anyone’s life, and for most people, the purpose for hiring an attorney is to have someone who can handle all of the issues from a reasonable perspective. Attorneys are people too, and each has his or her own personality. It is important for anyone looking for help with divorce or another family law matter to engage a lawyer that is right for them. Choosing a divorce lawyer that is a good fit for the client’s personality and legal needs is an important first step to ensuring the process goes smoothly.

Some people feel most comfortable with a lawyer that is the same gender, and some want a lawyer that is very aggressive. When choosing a divorce lawyer, it is important to understand that the personality type, or aggressive nature, of the attorneys involved often control the tone of the entire divorce proceeding. For instance, an attorney who makes it a habit to aggressively pursue gaining every possible advantage for his or her client may keep the animosity level high for the duration. Couples who choose attorneys that encourage compromise often find that their case wraps up more quickly, and with less stress. Ultimately, this is a very personal decision for anyone choosing a divorce lawyer.

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Hiring a Non-Family Law Attorney

In small towns and rural areas, it is not uncommon for a small number of general practice lawyers to represent clients in a wide variety of legal matters, including divorce. Often, these attorneys are the most familiar with the procedures, and with the judges likely to hear the matter, providing a unique perspective and expertise.

When hiring a non-family attorney, it is a good idea to ask questions to be sure he is up-to-date on family law matters, and to check for client reviews where available. In some cases, people find it worth their time to travel a short distance to a larger community where an attorney who specializes in family law can be found.

Are There Divorce Lawyers for Men

Many men going through a divorce suffer the same emotions as their spouse, and feel that somehow their rights are not being fully protected. The issues of paying child and spousal support, and of gaining child custody, often leave men wondering if there are divorce lawyers for men. Nearly all family law attorneys represent clients of both gender, though there are some who specialize in representing men in family law proceedings.

When choosing a divorce lawyer, it is very important to hire someone the client is comfortable talking with. There is a great deal of personal information that needs to be communicated to family law attorneys in order for them to be able to effectively represent their clients. A consultation prior to hiring an attorney is a must, as this gives both the attorney and the client a chance to see if they are likely to be able to work together. Many attorneys, including divorce lawyers, offer free consultations for this purpose. When attending such a meeting, it is a good idea to write down the major issues, and be prepared to answer a few questions about the divorce.

(Video) How does a court decide how to split your house and any money when you divorce? Family law explainer

The Cost of a Divorce Lawyer

Hiring an attorney can be hard on the bank account, and the cost of a divorce lawyer is no exception. Divorce lawyers charge by the hour for all of the work they do, as well as the work their assistants do. During the consultation, the attorney should inform the client of his hourly rate, and explain that this amount is normally billed in increments of 10 minutes. Most attorneys require the client to put up a “retainer,” which is essentially a deposit into their attorney-services account, to cover the attorney’s work as it happens.

Retainer amounts vary, usually between $500 and $5,000. The attorney will keep track of all work, from reading through documents provided by the client, to every phone call he makes, as well as costs, such as court filing fees, process serving fees, and photocopies. He must then provide the client with a detailed bill each month to show where the client’s money is going. Once the retainer is used up, the attorney generally asks for another deposit.

Many people find it difficult to come up with what seems like a large sum of money, and question why they cannot simply pay as the work proceeds. There is a simple answer to this question: when people have a great need for their attorney, they are diligent in paying their legal bills. Once their case is finished, however, and they no longer need the attorney’s services, those bills get put on the back burner, as other expenses take the stage. Attorneys who agree to bill their clients in arrears often never collect their full fees.

Just how much a family law matter will cost in total depends on several of factors. The first factor is how many issues need to be settled, and the second factor is the level of contention between the parties. A couple with no children usually has fewer issues to settle than a couple fighting over custody. Couples who fight to the bitter end over every lamp and television set often spend more attorneys fees than those who can work together to divide the marital property. While it is possible to get divorced for a few hundred dollars, it is also possible to run up the cost of a divorce lawyer into the tens of thousands of dollars range.

(Video) How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer Who Will Be Right for YOU

For example:

Stephanie and Bob are embroiled in an ugly divorce. Stephanie claims that Bob was abusive, and that their two children would be in danger if put in his care. Bob is angry, insisting that Stephanie had an affair. Both of them want ownership of the family home, all of its furnishings, and their two cars. Stephanie is adamant that Bob be allowed only supervised visitation with the children every other week, and is requesting both child support and alimony.

Both Stephanie and Bob have hired divorce lawyers, who are trying to help them come to some reasonable agreement about splitting the marital property. The child custody issue is in the court’s hands, as the family attends court-ordered mediation to determine whether there really has been abuse, or whether the parents are just angry.

In the meantime, each time Bob has weekend visitation, he fails to return the children to their mother on time, necessitating phone calls between the attorneys to settle the matter, as well as for additional documents to be filed with the court, and an extra hearing. Both parties have sold or “misplaced” valuable property, which goes against the rule that neither may sell or get rid of any joint property before the divorce is finalized, again making it necessary for the attorneys to come to some agreement.


In such a highly contentious case, the legal fees pile up for every phone call made by each party to his or her attorney, for each phone call between attorneys, and for every minute the parties sit with their attorneys refusing to compromise. Fees for completing and filing additional court documents, as well as for attorney representation at extra hearings, add up quickly. In these situations, it is not uncommon for legal fees to reach thousands of dollars each month, and for the divorce to drag on for many months, or even years.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Child Custody – The care, control, and maintenance of a child, often awarded by the court.
  • Child Support – Court-ordered payments made by one parent to the other for the support of the couple’s minor children.
  • Civil Law – The body of law dealing with private matters between individuals and corporations and other entities.
  • Family Law – The area of law dealing with family matters and domestic relations, such as marriage, divorce, child custody, child abuse, child support, and adoption.
  • Jurisdiction – The legal authority to hear legal cases and make judgments; the geographical region of authority to enforce justice.
  • Retainer – A fee paid in advance to retain or secure a lawyer’s services.
  • Spousal Support – An allowance paid to an individual by their former spouse after they divorce or separate; also known as “alimony.”


What is an abuse of process in civil proceedings? ›

1. Abuse of process has been defined as "something so unfair and wrong that the court should not allow a prosecutor to proceed with what is in all other respect a regular proceeding" 1.

Can you stop a divorce after filing? ›

Once your Decree Absolute has been made, it is not possible to stop the divorce, as you are now divorced. BUT the good news is you are free to remarry and, of course, you can choose to remarry your ex spouse if you wish to do so.

Can the same solicitor act for both parties in a divorce? ›

A solicitor's role is to act in the best interest of their client and therefore the same solicitor cannot equally represent both sides of the argument.

Can a solicitor drop a case? ›

Whether a solicitor can stop acting is very important. Once a solicitor has agreed to act in a case they have agreed to act until the (sometimes bitter) end. They cannot just drop out and leave the client in the lurch.

What is malicious prosecution example? ›

Malicious prosecution refers to a criminal or civil case that is filed without an adequate basis and for an improper purpose, such as harassing the defendant, ruining another person's reputation, or to knowingly place blame on someone other than the actual wrongdoer.

What amounts to abuse of court process? ›

Abuse of Court Process is the improper or malicious use of the judicial process by one party to intimidate or harass the other and interfere with the administration of justice. It is the same thing as Abuse of Judicial Process.

What can be used against you in a divorce? ›

Spending marital money on extramarital affairs. Transferring marital funds to another person before a separation. Spending unreasonable amounts on business expenditures. Selling marital assets below the market value.

Can a divorce case be dismissed? ›

it cannot be dismissed. You need to prove his cruelty. Then only on the basis of evidence the the case can be decided. .

Can a court deny a divorce? ›

A court can dismiss your mutual divorce petition if all issues regarding the child's wellbeing and custody are not sorted out. Contested divorce not proven: The Hindu Law has provided certain grounds for which a person can file for a divorce petition, even if their spouse is not ready to give divorce.

Does a solicitor have to tell the truth? ›

According to Solicitors' Code of Conduct your solicitor will be bound by a duty of confidentiality and he should therefore not make any unnecessary disclosures about your case. He on the other hand has a duty of disclosure which makes him disclose information if the court so orders.

Can you trust a solicitor? ›

It is reassuring to know that solicitors are generally still considered to be trustworthy because they do need to help people at crucial stages in their lives, dealing with matters which are personal and confidential.

Can you tell a solicitor anything? ›

The basic rule is that a solicitor must keep the happenings of their clients confidential unless disclosure is expected or authorised by law, or the client consents to it. In this context, consent should be informed, i.e. the client should understand the nature of their approval.

What is professionally embarrassed? ›

'professionally embarrassed'.12 The Code gives eight specific. examples of such embarrassment, ranging from lack of. competence, lack of time to prepare the case, instructions which. seek to limit his discretion as to how the case shall be. conducted, and the existence of conflicts of interest.

What does embarrassing mean in law? ›

'Embarrassing' in the context of pleadings, is a legal term of art. It is not, as one litigant in person contended, material which would embarrass the opposing party through its revelation.

What happens if a case is withdrawn? ›

The phrase “case withdrawn” denotes a court decision that there is no need to continue the trial and reach a guilty or not guilty verdict after considering the merits of a particular case.

What is an example of a frivolous lawsuit? ›

There are several different types of frivolous lawsuit dispute examples, including: Filing a false, or untrue, claim regarding automobile insurance; Filing a request for an unreasonable amount of damages in a medical malpractice claim; Attempting to sue an insurance company for a claim that has no basis in the law; and.

What is needed to prove malicious prosecution? ›

In order to succeed in a nan action for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove: That the defendant instituted a prosecution against him. That the prosecution ended in the plaintiff's favor. That the defendant has no reasonable and probable cause for prosecution.

What is it called when a lawyer messes up? ›

What is Legal Malpractice? Legal malpractice is when an attorney makes a grievous error in handling a case. Lawyers are held to a general standard and codes of ethical and professional conduct.

What order must a court make when it upholds abuse of court process? ›

AIYELERU (1993) 3 NWLR (PT 280) 126 AT 142, the Supreme Court held that the proper order a court should make when a suit is an abuse of court process is an order of dismissal and not striking out.

What factors might lead to a trial being unfair? ›

Examples of Reasons a Defendant Cannot Receive a Fair Trial
  • Delay. ...
  • Failing to Obtain, Losing or Destroying Evidence. ...
  • Adverse publicity. ...
  • Non-disclosure by prosecutor. ...
  • Proceedings begun or continued in breach of promise not to prosecute. ...
  • Cautions. ...
  • Authority to set aside conditional cautioning decisions.
20 Jul 2021

What is an abuse of discretion? ›

Abuse of discretion is a standard of review used by appellate courts to review decisions of lower courts. The appellate court will typically find that the decision was an abuse of discretion if the discretionary decision was made in plain error.

Can text messages be used against you in a divorce? ›

Can My Texts Be Used Against Me in a Divorce? The short answer is “Yes.” The court usually allows the person receiving the text to testify that he or she recognizes the phone number the text was sent from. The court might also ask about the sender's identity and the context of the message.

How do I protect myself financially in a divorce? ›

How to Financially Protect Yourself in a Divorce
  1. Legally establish the separation/divorce.
  2. Get a copy of your credit report and monitor activity.
  3. Separate debt to financially protect your assets.
  4. Move half of joint bank balances to a separate account.
  5. Comb through your assets.
  6. Conduct a cash flow analysis.
28 Oct 2021

What happens when divorce petition is dismissed? ›

If case is dismissed by family court of your district then you should appeal against the order of family court in High court of your state. If you are confident that you have fought your case properly and feel aggrieved by the judgment then you may prefer an appeal before the higher court.

What is a dismissal hearing? ›

Dismissal should be considered as a last resort.

The purpose of this meeting is for the employer to hear the employee before the employer issues the written warning. The procedure is intended to provide a framework for parties to use in drafting their own disciplinary procedure.

Can you stop a divorce after filing in Texas? ›

Can you dismiss a divorce case in Texas? Absolutely, as long as both spouses agree and the divorce hasn't been finalized.

Can I get divorce without any reason? ›

The court cannot force any one to give or not to give divorce to his/her spouse. It can only decide whether the spouse who files a petition for divorce, is entitled to divorce or not. 2. If you do not want to give divorce then you may contest the divorce proceedings initiated by your wife as and when she initiates it.

What happens if spouse doesn't agree to divorce? ›

If your spouse fails to answer your petition of divorce by the deadline, or simply refuses to answer, you can request the judge grant your divorce by default. In a default judgment, the judge can grant the requests outlined in your divorce petition.

What happens if one spouse doesn't want a divorce? ›

If you don't want a divorce but your spouse does, you have few options if your spouse has made up his mind. You may try to talk through your issues as a couple, and you may consider marriage counseling or legal separation for a period of time. What's most important, however, is not to be legally uncooperative.

Can a solicitor mislead you? ›

Solicitors are now subject to a rule which says: “You do not mislead or attempt to mislead your clients, the court or others, either by your own acts or omissions or allowing or being complicit in the acts or omissions of others (including your client).” This is a substantial change.

What happens if someone lies in a statement of truth? ›

The person making the statement of truth believes that the facts stated in the document are true; and. Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes a false statement (or causes a false statement to be made) in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth ...

What is misconduct by a solicitor? ›

For example, if your solicitor commits any one of the following acts, they'll generally be guilty of professional misconduct: Keeping money that belongs to you without your consent. Releasing confidential information about you without your consent. Acting without your consent for a client whose interests clash with ...

Why do solicitors hold your money? ›

There are two significant reasons why probate solicitors hold money for an extended period after probate. These reasons are estate complexity and legal issues.

What is the difference between a lawyer and solicitor? ›

Essentially a lawyer and a solicitor mean the same thing. A lawyer is a term used to describe anyone who is licensed and can give legal advice to a business, organisation, or individual.

How confidential is a lawyer? ›

(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).

Can lawyers keep secrets? ›

The attorney-client privilege is a rule that protects the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. Under the rule, attorneys may not divulge their clients' secrets, nor may others force them to.

What do I need to bring to a solicitor? ›

What to take. Take any relevant letters or documents with you, organised so that you can find what you need. This will help your solicitor or adviser understand what has been going on. Take proof of your address, or care of address, and some photo ID as the solicitor or adviser will need this for their file.

How do solicitors charge for their time? ›

Hourly rates

Charging according to the time spent on your matter using the hourly rate method is still the most common way that law firms charge for their services. This means, to put it bluntly, time is money. The more hours that your solicitor spends on your case, the more you will be charged.

What is meant by abuse of process of law? ›

exercised when the State and its instrumentalities have abused process of law in registration of crime. Here, the petitioner complained ... that by abusing process of law, crime is registered against the petitioner for various offences referred supra. Therefore, this Court.

What is abuse of process in NY? ›

Abuse of process exists when someone uses judicial processes for reasons that were not the purpose for which the processes were designed. Judicial processes include bringing motions for sanctions, issuing subpoenas, filing counterclaims, requests of summons from the court, and filing appeals.

What is abuse of process in California? ›

“The tort of abuse of process constitutes the use of a legal process against another to accomplish a purpose for which it is not designed. [Citations.] Its elements are: (1) an ulterior motive; and (2) a willful act in the use of process not proper in the regular conduct of the proceedings.

What is abuse of jurisdiction? ›

Abuse of Jurisdiction:

All administrative powers must be exercised fairly, in good faith for the purpose it is given, therefore, if powers are abused it will be a ground of judicial review.

What factors might lead to a trial being unfair? ›

Examples of Reasons a Defendant Cannot Receive a Fair Trial
  • Delay. ...
  • Failing to Obtain, Losing or Destroying Evidence. ...
  • Adverse publicity. ...
  • Non-disclosure by prosecutor. ...
  • Proceedings begun or continued in breach of promise not to prosecute. ...
  • Cautions. ...
  • Authority to set aside conditional cautioning decisions.
20 Jul 2021

What is abusive power? ›

A simple definition of the abuse of power is the misuse of a position of power to take unjust advantage of individuals, organizations, or governments.

What is false imprisonment tort? ›

Under the law of tort, false imprisonment can be termed as the complete deprivation of liberty for any amount of time, no matter how limited or small the time period is, without any lawful excuse or proper justification.

Is abuse of power a tort? ›

The tort of misfeasance in public office (also referred to as abuse of power or abuse of authority) has been on the Canadian jurisprudential radar screen since at least the late 1950's.

What is a counterclaim brought for the sole purpose of delaying a proceeding grounds for a wrongful institution of civil proceedings suit? ›

A counterclaim brought for the sole purpose of delaying a proceeding is grounds for a wrongful institution of civil proceedings suit. A defendant can be liable for an innocent misrepresentation if the defendant makes a material misrepresentation during the course of trying to close a sale.

What is a frivolous lawsuit California? ›

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 128.7, modeled after Rule 11, authorizes sanctions against a lawyer for presenting to the court a frivolous paper (i.e., without legal or factual merit) or a paper for an improper purpose (i.e., to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or expense).

What is the statute of limitations for malicious prosecution in California? ›

An action for malicious prosecution must be filed within one year of the accrual of the cause of action.

Is a demand letter extortion? ›

In 2006, the California Supreme Court held that a lawyer's prelitigation communications — including demand letters — can constitute extortion. Ever since, lower courts have wrestled with how to distinguish between extortionate threats and proper demand letters.

What is discretion abuse? ›

When the mode of exercising a valid power is improper or unreasonable there is an abuse of the power. Improper exercise of discretion includes everything which English courts include in 'unreasonable' exercise of discretion and American courts include in 'arbitrary and capricious' exercise of discretion.

What are the four grounds of judicial review? ›

There are three main grounds of judicial review: illegality, procedural unfairness, and irrationality. A decision can be overturned on the ground of illegality if the decision-maker did not have the legal power to make that decision, for instance because Parliament gave them less discretion than they thought.

What do you mean by certiorari? ›

certiorari, also called cert, in common-law jurisdictions, a writ issued by a superior court for the reexamination of an action of a lower court. Certiorari also is issued by an appellate court to obtain information on a case pending before it.


1. Negotiations and Your Divorce: The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make
(The Hart Law Firm, P.A.)
2. NO FAULT DIVORCE (What is there to know)
(The Legal Queen)
3. Sassy Mama Asks the Experts: Divorce & Family Law in Singapore
(Sassy Mama)
(Legal Leaders: South African Family Law)
5. Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process Explained
(Weinberger Law Group)
6. Complete Instructions for your DIY Divorce in California from a Divorce Lawyer
(Hello Divorce)

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